U.S. Water News Online
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK -- A series of small earthquakes that shook Yellowstone National Park last summer have dried up some activity at many geysers.
Park research geologist Rick Hutchinson said many geyser basins in the park have less water than they have had in years, and the activity of some of the more popular spouters is down. The park's most famous geyser, Old Faithful, appeared to have survived those small earthquakes with little or no change, however.
Hutchinson said earthquakes have a dramatic effect on geysers located in a seismically active area. An earthquake will flush out an extra amount of water from the geysers, he said, "sort of like the crest on a wave." After the wave comes the trough -- for a geyser, a trough of less water volume.
The Porcelain Basin at Norris usually shows dozens of small spouters, Hutchinson said. Now those are nearly dry, and many pools in the Back Basin at Norris, home of Echinus and Steamboat geysers, are likewise way down, he added.
Earthquakes can cause new fractures, close old ones, or bring up new gases from inside the earth "like shaking up a pop bottle," Hutchinson said, and all of this affects geyser activity.
Surface water, however, takes years and years to go down through the ground to the level where it is heated and comes back up as geyers, he said.
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