yellowstone eruption
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
September 1, 2020 ·  3 min read

Yellowstone’s Giantess Geyser erupts for first time in 6 years, roars ‘back to life’

A massive geyser, which was known for how often it erupted each year, went mysteriously silent for six years. However, on Tuesday the Giantess Geyser in Yellowstone National Park finally erupted again after being dormant for six years, shocking and amazing the lucky park-goers.

Yellowstone’s Giantess Geyser Erupts After Six Years

According to Yellowstone’s website, “infrequent but violent” eruptions were the defining characteristic of the Giantess Geyser, which used to go off two to six times annually. For the last six years, however, the geyser has been completely silent. (1)

This past Tuesday, August 25th, 2020, the geyser suddenly came back to life with astonishing power, putting on a show for the visitors who were at the park. (1)

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) says that the six-year span since the last eruption is the longest since the 1980s, however, the geyser has experienced long dormant periods before. (1)

“Why geysers turn off and on is something that is not well understood. They are very fragile systems.” the USGS tweeted. (1)

Giantess Geyser: A Typical Eruption

So what exactly does a geyser eruption look and feel like? From the giantess geyser, they are powerful and rumbling.

Often just before the first eruption, the ground and area around the geyser will begin to shake because of the underground steam. It typically shoots a stream 100 to 200 feet straight up into the air and will continue to do this twice hourly for up to 48 hours. (1)

What Causes Geysers to Erupt?

Though we still don’t understand much about these fascinating natural formations, we do have some knowledge as to how their eruptions occur.

Geysers have ‘side chambers’ of boiling water underground. These looping chambers trap the steam from the hot water, but some bubbles escape and heat the water column to a boiling point. (2)

When the pressure from the trapped steam gets high enough, it blasts to release the pressure and the whole water column boils right out of the ground. More than half of the volume is steam, and the eruption only stops when the water cools back down to below the boiling point. (2)

Other Powerful Geysers

The Giantess Geyser isn’t the only impressive geyser you’ll find in Yellowstone National Park, or elsewhere in the world for that matter. Yellowstone does, however, contain about half of all of the geysers on earth thanks to the thousands of hot springs that exist there. (5)

In Yellowstone, you can find:

Old Faithful

This is the park’s most frequently erupting geyser. Visitors can expect to see it blow at least once every two hours, with streams reaching about 180 feet in the air. (5)

Steamboat Geyser

Steamboat is currently the world’s tallest active geyser, shooting water more than 300 feet in the air. So far it has erupted 26 times in 2020, however it is much less frequent than Old Faithful and has gone dormant for several years in the past. (4)

For more on Yellowstone geysers, click here.

Geysers from Around the World

Elsewhere around the world, there are some extremely impressive geysers. These include (5):

  • Suwa Geyser, Japan
  • The Andernach Geyser, Germany (the world’s tallest cold water geyser)
  • Lady Knox Geyser, New Zealand (site workers induce an eruption every day for visitors by dropping soap into the geyser)
  • The Great Geyser, Iceland
  • Et Tatio, Chile (the largest field of geysers in the world)

If you are ever lucky enough to witness one of these geysers erupt in person, you are guaranteed to have a memory that will last a lifetime.

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