Yellowstone's Ear Spring Geyser Spews Out Water, Steam, Mud, And . . . Human Trash!

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Ear Spring geyser eruption on September 15, 2018 (Photo Credit: Yellowstone National Park)

Yellowstone Park officials were thrilled when the Ear Spring geyser suddenly came to life on September 15, 2018. Visitors fortunate enough to be in the area, watched in awe as the hot pool’s largest eruption since 1957, caused sprays of steaming 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degree Celsius), water to leap as high as 30 feet (9 meters) in the air. However, the joy turned to shock when employees discovered that in addition to the expected rocks and dirt, the geyser had also ejected human-generated trash.

The carefully cataloged items include almost 100 coins, a cinder block, aluminum cans, plastic cups, cigarette butts, a rubber heel insert, old metal signs, a plastic straw, and even a vintage baby pacifier from the 1930s! Park officials say regardless of whether the foreign objects ended up in the geyser accidentally or were thrown in deliberately, they are harmful to the hot spring.

The human debris that was found following the eruption (Photo Credit: Yellowstone National Park via Facebook)

Yellowstone supervisory park ranger Rebecca Roland told CBS News, “You might think that if you toss something in a hot spring or in a geyser that it disappears, but it doesn’t disappear. It stays in that and what normally happens is you can actually plug up a feature and kill the feature. And that’s happened in many places in the park.” Park officials caution tourists to be more careful: "The next time Ear Spring erupts we hope it's nothing but natural rocks and water."

Established in 1872, Yellowstone, which spans an area of almost 3,500 square miles, was the first national park in the world. While most of it is in Wyoming, the park’s boundaries also extend into parts of Montana and Idaho. The wilderness recreation area is known for its diverse wildlife, dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, and, most importantly, the world’s largest number of hot springs and geysers.

Old Faithful erupting at night with Big Dipper in the background in 2014 (Photo Credit: Astroval1 CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons)

The impressive gushers, which draw thousands of visitors to the park annually, can be attributed to Yellowstone’s location above a volcanic hot spot. As surface water seeps underground, it comes in contact with the hot magma, which causes the liquid to boil. The resulting pressure forces a superheated column of steam and water to the surface, through a plumbing system made of fractures, fissures, porous spaces and cavities. While most geysers don’t erupt on a regular schedule, Yellowstone’s Old Faithful has been spewing out columns of scalding water, up to 184 feet high, every 35 to 120 minutes since 2000. Even more impressive is that each natural fountain “show” lasts between one and a half to 5 minutes!

Resources: LiveScience.com,smithsonianmag.com,treehugger.com

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  1. Why were Yellowstone Park officials thrilled on September 15, 2018?
  2. Why was the eruption significant?
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413 Comments
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  • jawsFriday, November 16, 2018 at 10:12 am
    wut is wrong with people these days
    • Lilypotter12Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 9:39 am
      STOP LITTERING!Its bad for our ecosystems,the ocean,and other places.
      • lilliebean16Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 10:55 am
        okay people stop littering your hurting our planet and if you want your trash out of your hand why don't you just walk to the nearest trash can and don't drive a car walk cause the pluten is hurting our resourses and our air and our world...................................... super sad :(
        • eg10a
          eg10aTuesday, November 13, 2018 at 9:49 am
          Supper sad! :(
          • MicrochipMonday, November 12, 2018 at 7:55 am
            STOP LITTERING!
            • mooisamazing767
              mooisamazing767Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 6:10 pm
              I'm using this for my history report. Thank you so much Daksha Morjaria for writing this article!
              • RiRiSunday, November 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm
                I know right
                • DoodSunday, November 11, 2018 at 4:24 pm
                  This is just sad.
                  • CrazypopLOLSunday, November 11, 2018 at 2:58 am
                    Yeah its like if someone painted it
                    • Fry_BOiFriday, November 9, 2018 at 12:09 pm
                      Suuuuuuper weird duuuude

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