Steamboat has been active in the past four years. Here is the latest info on eruptions:
27 April 2003 at 3:00 am based upon electronic measurements. 26 March 2003 at about 12:30 am based upon electronic measurments. The previous four eruptions were: 13 September 2002 at 10:20 pm, 26 April 2002, 02 May 2000 at 5:00 am and 02 October 1991.
This is info from the 02 May 2000 eruption. Steamboat had not erupted since 12 Oct 91. It has been active with steam and gurgling during this time but had not erupted until 02 May 2000 - Tuesday. A couple that was in the Norris area heard and felt what they thought was an earthquake and they left the area and drove south to Elk Meadows. When they looked back, they saw Steamboat in eruption and they then went back to Norris and photographed Steamboat. This all happened at about 5:00 am. It has been an exciting day in the park for everyone!
When Steamboat Geyser erupts, it can rocket a column of scalding water 300 - 400 feet (90 - 120 meters) into the air--two to three times the average height of Old Faithful. Steam roars for 24 hours after. Odds are against your witnessing this drama, however, since Steamboat's major eruptions occur four days to 50 years apart.
In Yellowstone's geyser basins, unpredictability is the pattern. Old Faithful's relatively predictable intervals are the exception. An earthquake could disrupt Old Faithful's timetable, or a shift in subterranean plumbing could allow Steamboat more frequent eruptions.
Though order and symmetry in nature can be reassuring, true geyser gazers appreciate surprise and suspense. Watch the larger, upslope vent for massive, frequent bursts to heights of at least 16 - 32 feet (5 - 10 meters), accompanied by heavy runoff--Steamboats only known eruption indicator.
When Steamboat Geyser has a major eruption, the deep pool of nearby Cistern Springs drains almost completely. Gradually, within a day or two after Steamboat's eruption, Cistern begins to refill.
My wife called me and told me that she heard a report the Steamboat had erupted. I drove into the park at about noon today (02 May 2000) and headed to Norris. I arrived about 12:30 pm and I could hear the roar of Steamboat from the parking lot and felt the light mist from the geyser. I almost ran the whole way to Steamboat (.2 of a mile from the museum). It was still awesome in its steam phase. Just roaring and a plume of steam shooting way up into the sky, very impressive to say the least. After our children got home from school, we headed back into the park so that my wife and children could enjoy the thermal activity of Steamboat. It was awesome and all the folks there were filming, watching and enjoying the geyser activity.
Early this morning, around 5:00 am, the world's tallest active geyser, Steamboat, gave early morning visitors a rare opportunity to view it in major eruption. Eruptions of Steamboat Geyser (located at the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park) are entirely unpredictable, with the last eruption on October 12, 1991.
At around 7:00 am, a National Park Service employee traveling to work spotted a very tall vapor column as he neared the geyser basin and-suspecting a possible eruption-stopped to investigate. Two park visitors, sleeping in their pickup camper truck at the Norris parking area, stated that they were abruptly awakened about 5:00 am by what they thought was an earthquake. Frightened, they drove south toward Madison, but upon looking back noted the huge vapor plume and returned to the geyser basin. By the time the park employee arrived, a very heavy, wet mist enveloped most of the area to the geyser, and Steamboat-emitting a tremendous roar-was in the full steam phase with a huge vapor plume approximately 500 feet tall (we have no estimate of the height of the water plume).
Steamboat Geyser rarely erupts in major phase. More commonly, Steamboat ejects water in frequent bursts of 10-40 feet. During a major eruption, Steamboat can reach heights of over 300 feet, showering viewers with mineral-rich waters. For hours following its rare 3-40 minute major eruptions (water phase), Steamboat thunders with powerful jets of steam; this steam phase can continue as long as 12 hours after the water cessation.
Steamboat's unpredictability makes today's observance even more rare. Intervals vary from three days to fifty years (Steamboat was dormant from 1911-1961). In recent years, Steamboat has erupted in 1989 (3 times), 1990 (1 time), and 1991 (1 time).
NOTE TO MEDIA: Yellowstone National Park does not have the name of the two visitors who were illegally camped at Norris Geyser Basin; camping in the park is allowed only in designated campgrounds.
Morning of May 3rd - report from a park service employee:
-Cistern Spring: Empty
-Steamboat: Alternating steam/water phases - water to approx. 80 feet - still throwing out small rocks
-Boardwalks covered with debris and ice
Not able to tell yet what this might lead to - more to follow