Climate and Geysers

” The new research paper, ‘Climate-Induced Variations of Geyser
Periodicity in Yellowstone National Park, USA,’ is published in the
June issue of the journal Geology.”
Get the abstract at:

News Release
National Park Service and US Geological survey
May 30, 2008
        Shaul Hurwitz, USGS

        Leslie Gordon, USGS

        Stacy Vallie, NPS

        Al Nash, NPS

What Makes an Old Geyser Faithful?

New research suggests that how often Old Faithful and other
Yellowstone geysers erupt may depend on annual rainfall patterns.

Geysers are rare hot springs that periodically erupt bursts of steam
and hot water. Old Faithful has remained faithful for at least the
past 135 years, showering appreciative tourists every 50 to 90
minutes (most recently an average of 91 minutes).

USGS researcher Shaul Hurwitz and his colleagues from Stanford
University and Yellowstone National Park have discovered that changes
of water supply to a geyser’s underground plumbing may have a large
influence on eruption intervals; that is, the time between eruptions.
For example, geysers appear to lengthen and shorten their intervals
on cycles that mimic annual dry and wet periods.

Multi-year precipitation records also strongly correlate with geyser
behavior. Based on these results, the study proposes that an extended
drought should result in longer intervals between eruptions, and
perhaps even cessation of activity in some geysers. In contrast, in
years with high precipitation, eruption intervals should be more
frequent. The new research paper, “Climate-Induced Variations of
Geyser Periodicity in Yellowstone National Park, USA,” is published
in the June issue of the journal Geology

Additional information: Geysers are extremely rare; perhaps less than
1000 exist worldwide, with more than half of them in Yellowstone
National Park. The famous Old Faithful Geyser was named in 1870
during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Yellowstone expedition and was the
first geyser in the Park to be named. Old Faithful eruptions can be
viewed on any computer on Earth via a video camera deployed by the
National Park Service
( Instrumental
data which records geyser eruption times is available at Long-term meteorological trends can be
inferred from seasonal streamflow trends like those in the Madison

This study is a cooperative effort involving the U.S. Geological
Survey and the National Park Service.
The USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information,

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