Yellowstone's Ear Spring Geyser Spews Out Water, Steam, Mud, And . . . Human Trash!


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Ear Spring geyser eruption on September 15, 2018 (Photo Credit: Yellowstone National Park)

Yellowstone Park officials were thrilled when the Ear Spring geyser suddenly came to life on September 15, 2018. Visitors fortunate enough to be in the area, watched in awe as the hot pool’s largest eruption since 1957, caused sprays of steaming 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degree Celsius), water to leap as high as 30 feet (9 meters) in the air. However, the joy turned to shock when employees discovered that in addition to the expected rocks and dirt, the geyser had also ejected human-generated trash.

The carefully cataloged items include almost 100 coins, a cinder block, aluminum cans, plastic cups, cigarette butts, a rubber heel insert, old metal signs, a plastic straw, and even a vintage baby pacifier from the 1930s! Park officials say regardless of whether the foreign objects ended up in the geyser accidentally or were thrown in deliberately, they are harmful to the hot spring.

The human debris that was found following the eruption (Photo Credit: Yellowstone National Park via Facebook)

Yellowstone supervisory park ranger Rebecca Roland told CBS News, “You might think that if you toss something in a hot spring or in a geyser that it disappears, but it doesn’t disappear. It stays in that and what normally happens is you can actually plug up a feature and kill the feature. And that’s happened in many places in the park.” Park officials caution tourists to be more careful: "The next time Ear Spring erupts we hope it's nothing but natural rocks and water."

Established in 1872, Yellowstone, which spans an area of almost 3,500 square miles, was the first national park in the world. While most of it is in Wyoming, the park’s boundaries also extend into parts of Montana and Idaho. The wilderness recreation area is known for its diverse wildlife, dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, and, most importantly, the world’s largest number of hot springs and geysers.

Old Faithful erupting at night with Big Dipper in the background in 2014 (Photo Credit: Astroval1 CC BY-SA 4.0 from Wikimedia Commons)

The impressive gushers, which draw thousands of visitors to the park annually, can be attributed to Yellowstone’s location above a volcanic hot spot. As surface water seeps underground, it comes in contact with the hot magma, which causes the liquid to boil. The resulting pressure forces a superheated column of steam and water to the surface, through a plumbing system made of fractures, fissures, porous spaces and cavities. While most geysers don’t erupt on a regular schedule, Yellowstone’s Old Faithful has been spewing out columns of scalding water, up to 184 feet high, every 35 to 120 minutes since 2000. Even more impressive is that each natural fountain “show” lasts between one and a half to 5 minutes!


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  • unicorn87
    unicorn87Monday, March 29, 2021 at 10:25 am
    • zaks
      zaksSunday, January 31, 2021 at 12:36 pm
      • sydney_zepp
        sydney_zeppSunday, January 31, 2021 at 11:42 am
        Hmmm....... Well, we can all learn not to throw trash down a geyser.
        • unipug2
          unipug2Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 8:32 am
          That is just disgusting
          • golden_rose
            golden_roseFriday, December 4, 2020 at 8:18 am
            #StopLittering #HelpSaveTheEarthFromGarbage #HelpTheGeysers
            • wither
              witherSunday, March 1, 2020 at 11:29 pm
              I don't think the coins were accidentally fell in the hot spring.
              • MinjunMonday, November 4, 2019 at 10:54 am
                I love this story
                • Screaming guyTuesday, September 24, 2019 at 12:43 pm
                  I NEED MORE!
                  • 3.1415897Monday, September 23, 2019 at 5:51 pm
                    DO NOT LITTER PEOPLE!!!!
                    • Anonymous guyThursday, September 19, 2019 at 6:48 am
                      STOP LITTERING