Is the Reawakened Steamboat Geyser harmful to explosive Yellowstone volcanic eruptions?

The 2019 Steamboat Geyser eruption in the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Geyser’s first documented activity was in 1878, և since then it has been disconnected և joined regularly, once every 50 years, without erupting. In 2018, it became active again after a three-and-a-half year hiatus, for reasons still unclear. Loan Berkeley UC photo by Mara Reed

Steamboat Geyser analysis also finds a link between column height and “reservoir depth”.

When the Yellowstone National Park Steamboat Geyser, which emits more water than any active geyser in the world, was revived in 2018 after three and a half years of sleep, some speculated that it was a warning sign of possible explosive volcanic eruptions in the surrounding geyser basin. These so-called hydrothermal explosions can throw mud, sand, rocks into the air, and release hot steam, endangering lives. In December 2019, a similar explosion on White Island in New landland ելland killed 22 people.

A new study by geysers exploring the idea throws cold water on the idea, finding some clues to the magma’s underground motion, which could be a precondition for an eruption. Geysers sit outside the nation’s largest dynamic volcanic caldera, but no major eruptions have occurred in the past 70,000 years.

“Hydrothermal explosions. “Mostly hot water explodes because it comes in contact with hot rock, which is one of the biggest dangers in Yellowstone,” said Michael Manga, a professor of geology and earth sciences. University of California, Berkeley, ավագ Senior author of the study. “The reason they are problematic is that it is very difficult to predict. It is not clear whether there are any precedents that will allow you to be warned. “

He and his team found that while the ground around the geyser was rising, the seismic resistance increased slightly before the geyser was restarted, the area was now slightly warmer, no more sleeping geysers had resumed in the pool, eruptions have not increased. In addition, no sequence of Steamboat eruptions, except in 2018, occurred after periods of high seismic activity.

“We do not find any evidence of a major eruption. “I think it is a powerful flight,” he said.

The study will be published this week: Scientific Bulletin of the National Academy of Sciences,

Manga, who has studied geysers around the world and created them in his own lab, set out to answer three key questions about the Steamboat Geyser with his colleagues. Why did it wake up again? Why is its period so variable, from 3 to 17 days? և Why does it bounce so high?

The team found the answers to two of those questions. Comparing the heights of the pillars of 11 different geysers in the United States, Russia, Iceland, and Chile with the estimated depths of the water resources from which they erupted, they found that the deeper the reservoir, the greater the eruption. The Steamboat Geyser, with a reservoir about 25 meters (82 feet) above the ground, has the highest column, up to 115 meters, or 377 feet, while the two geysers that measured manga in Chile were the lowest, erupting about one meter (3 feet) 2 բարձր above the ground. meters from reservoirs.

“What you are really doing is you are filling a container, it is reaching a critical point, you are emptying it, and then the liquid runs out, which can erupt until it is refilled,” he said. : “The deeper you go, the higher the pressure. The higher the pressure, the higher the boiling point. And the hotter the water, the more energy it has, the higher the geyser. ”

To investigate the reasons for the Steamboat Geyser’s variability, the team collected records of 109 eruptions returning in 2018. Records included weather և flow data, seismometer և soil deformation readings դիտարկում geyser fan observations. They also looked at previous sleep periods of Steamboat այլ nine other Yellowstone geysers, as well as data on surface heat emissions from the Norris Geyser Basin.

They conclude that fluctuations in snowmelt are probably responsible for part of the changing period, and possibly other changing geysers. In the spring and early summer, due to melting snow and rain, the groundwater pressure pushes more water into the underground reservoir, providing more hot water to erupt more often. In winter, with less water, low groundwater pressure fills the reservoir more slowly, leading to longer periods between eruptions. Because the water in the reservoir comes from even deeper than the reservoir, the water is decades or centuries old before it comes to the surface.

In October, members of the Manga team demonstrated that dehydration and drought could have a major impact on water thieves. They showed that Yellowstone’s iconic Old Faithful Geyser completely ceased to erupt in the 13th and 14th centuries for about 100 years, based on radiocarbon dating of mineralized logoeopole pine trees that grew while it slept around geysers. : Usually the water is too alkaline, և the temperature is too high for the trees to grow near active geysers. The Nirhi region coincided with a long hot-dry spell in the Western United States called the Medieval Climate Anomaly, which may have led to the disappearance of several Native American civilizations in the West.

“Climate change will affect geysers in the future,” Manga said.

Manga և his team could not figure out why the Steamboat Geyser reopened on March 15, 2018, after three years and 193 days of inactivity, although the geyser is known to be much more variable than the Old Faithful , which usually passes every 90th. They could not find any conclusive evidence that a new magma rising beneath the geysers caused it to restart.

The restart may be due to changes in interior plumbing, he said. Geyser seems to require three components. Heat, water ապ Silicon rocks: silicon dioxide. Because hot water in geysers is constantly dissolved լուծ redistributes the concentrate. Each time the Steamboat Geyser explodes, it delivers about 200 kilograms or 440 pounds of dissolved concentrate. Some of this silica is submerged և could change the plumbing under the geyser. Such changes may temporarily stop or restart the eruptions if the pipe is changed.

Manga has tried its way in geyser labs to find out why they erupt regularly; at least in the lab, it seems to be due to rings in the tube or side chambers that trap steam bubbles that slowly drain as the water column heats up. above until all the water can boil from top to bottom, exploding explosively in the water: column.

“Studies of water eruptions from geysers can provide insights into hot rock eruptions from volcanoes,” he said.

“What we have asked are very simple questions. It is a little shameful that we cannot answer them, because it means that there are fundamental processes on Earth that we do not quite understand,” Manga said. “One of the reasons we insist we have to study geysers is that if we can not understand, explain how the tempter erupts, our magma’s hope of doing the same thing is much lower.”

Reference. January 2021 Scientific Bulletin of the National Academy of Sciences,

The study, led by Mara Reed, UC Berkeley’s first postgraduate student, was the result of a collaboration that began at one of the annual summer seminars hosted by the Earth Dynamic Research Cooperative Institute, or CIDER. Other co-authors are Carolina Munoz-Saez of the University of Chile, University of Texas Rice, Sahand Hajimirza of Rice University, Sin Mae Woon of the University of Utah, Anna Bart Columbia University In New York, Tarsilo Gir Irona of the University of Alaska, Majid Rasht-Behest of the University of Brown Island, Rhode Island, Erin White in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Marian Carplus of the University of Texas երկր California Geological Survey.

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