Yellowstone geyser erupts, vomiting decades worth of trash across park
A rare eruption of a thermal spring in Yellowstone National Park last month spewed more than just steam and water. It also coughed up decades’ worth of trash visitors have tossed down it over the years.
Ear Spring, a geyser located near Yellowstone’s famed Old Faithful, erupted on Sept. 15, sending water six to nine metres high, a height not seen since 1957.
The spring, named for its resemblance to the shape of a human ear, is one of dozens of geysers, pools and hot springs in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin.
According to the national park, following the eruption, staff “found a strange assortment of items strewn across the landscape around its vent.”
“Some are clearly historic: they’ll be inventoried by curators and may end up in Yellowstone’s archives,” the park noted on social media.
The United States Geological Survey Yellowstone Observatory said the eruption ejected “material that had fallen or been thrown into the geyser in years past, like coins, old cans, and other human debris,” including a pacifier, believed to be from the 1930s.
Other items include a cement block, pop cans, pull tops, cigarette butts, a Pyrex funnel with tubing, plastic cups, Kodak yellow foil packaging, several pieces of glass, a pen, a plastic spoon, and a lot of coins, the USGS said.
“And some other stuff!” the USGS teased.
The agency said since the eruption of Ear Spring, thermal activity at surrounding geysers has increased and a new feature was formed, erupting on Sept. 18.
“Several other thermal features are more active than usual, including geysering and boiling of Doublet Pool and North Goggles Geyser,” the USGS said.
However, officials noted that changes in Yellowstone’s springs are common “and do not reflect changes in activity of the Yellowstone volcano.”
The national park did warn, however, that trash can be very impactful to the park.
“Foreign objects can damage hot springs and geysers. The next time Ear Spring erupts we hope it’s nothing but natural rocks and water,” the park said. “You can help by never throwing anything into Yellowstone’s thermal features!”
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