Scientists To Map Out The Plumbing System Of Yellowstone’s Mysterious Geyser Old Faithful

Posted: Nov 8 2016, 5:33am CST | by , Updated: Nov 8 2016, 5:40am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Scientists to Map Out the Plumbing System of Yellowstone’s Mysterious Geyser Old Faithful
Credit: Jacob Lowenstern/Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

Old Faithful has baffled scientists for decades. New study could solve the mystery of this famous hydrothermal feature in Yellowstone National Park

Scientists have taken a large step towards solving the mystery of geyser Old Faithful.

Discovered in 1870, Old Faithful is located in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park and erupts every 35 to 120 minutes a day. The geyser can spew super hot water up to 180 feet in the air and this eruption usually lasts 1.5 to 5 minutes.

Although Old Faithful has been erupting regularly over the past 150 years, its erupting behavior, both intensity and occurrence has increased over time.

Sometimes, the geyser erupts so violently that it can even leave imprints on surrounding area. One such explosion, or possibly multiple explosions, that occurred around 13,800 years ago formed a crater at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake. The crater measures 2.6 kilometers across and is believed to the largest such crater in the world.

However, researchers are not sure what causes this geyser to erupt so frequently and violently.

To find out, a combined team of researchers from Denmark and United States have decided to map out the plumbing system of hidden inside the Earth’s crust, which could help them understand the mechanism of this famous hydrothermal feature.

Throughout this month, researchers will conduct multiple flights over the park with a giant, hoop-shaped electromagnetic system hanging from the helicopter. The electromagnetic system will work as an X-ray machine that will help determine where and how hot water flows beneath the surface. The device can distinguish between rocks and waters as deep as 1,500 feet below the surface.

“Nobody knows anything about the flow paths for the hot water that erupts from Yellowstone's geysers,” said lead scientist Carol Finn U.S Geological Survey. “Does it travel down and back up? Does it travel laterally?”

The better understanding of plumbing system could help improve the safety of visitors. With an improved strategy, they can enjoy the park’s features without putting themselves in any danger.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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