Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser Erupts Again

Alex and Ava Ownby at Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser on June 21, 2013. (Photo: Melissa Hincha-Ownby)

Geyser gazers around the world are celebrating today because the tallest geyser in the world, Steamboat Geyser, erupted yesterday for the first time in eight years. The last major eruption of the geyser, which is located in Yellowstone National Park’s Norris Geyser Basin, was on May 23, 2005.

That is 8 years and 71 days since the last eruption. Or, if you’d like to get more specific, 8 years, 71 days, 4 hours and 49 minutes according to the website. The major eruption started around 7:30 p.m. Yellowstone-time and dozens of people were on hand to witness this rare event. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.

My family was at Steamboat Geyser just last month, on June 21, and I recorded a video of my two children watching the splashing at Steamboat. Of course, I secretly hoped that it would erupt as I was filming but it wasn’t mean to be — I missed that opportunity by about 40 days. Thankfully, visitors in the Norris Geyser Basin were able to capture some footage of the event.

I’m sure more footage will make its way to the Internet over the next few days or even weeks but until then, check out this video footage of Steamboat’s steam phase posted to Facebook by Cindy Bredeson.

Although major eruptions of Steamboat Geyser can reach up to 400 feet, National Park Service geologist Hank Heasler told the Associated Press that the water phase of this eruption was somewhere between 200 and 300 feet high.

It is difficult to quantify how high 300 feet is, especially when you are in the middle of the forest and only have trees to compare it to. To put this into better perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet tall when measured from the foundation (the bottom of the pedestal) to the tip of the torch.

What makes this even more exciting, in my opinion, is that the viewing platforms are so close to the actual geyser itself. Unlike Old Faithful, where crowds watch eruptions from a distance, the Steamboat platforms are essentially at the base of the geyser itself.

Imagine standing at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty and staring straight up to the torch – that’s pretty tall, right? Now imagine staring at a column of hot water or steam shooting up out of the earth because a massive magma chamber is churning beneath your feet. Intense, right?