After the Yellowstone geyser erupted violently, park rangers made a discovery in the gravel.
In the midst of the incredible landscape of Yellowstone National Park, a long-dormant geyser erupted, spewing a cloud of steam and mist. It wasn't just hot water that was forced out of the earth. Spectators witnessing the event were amazed to see a treasure trove of forgotten secrets unearthed from deep within the earth. Experts believe that this provides a glimpse into the past.
The oldest national park in the USA
Yellowstone is located in the western United States, spanning the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Over the years, millions of visitors have flocked to the park to witness its impressive geysers and hot springs. Sometimes, they leave more than just footprints behind.
In some parts of the park, geysers erupt multiple times a day, which is a true spectacle for onlookers. Other geysers lie dormant, waiting to become active again someday. One of these slumbering giants, known as "Ear Spring," erupted in September 2018, shooting water and debris into the air.
A look into the past
This eruption of Ear Spring was the most powerful explosion in over 60 years, and it led to something strange happening. It didn't take long before the surrounding area was adorned with various relics. Lost in Yellowstone decades ago, these objects now resurfaced in a dramatic way, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past.
So what exactly emerged when Ear Spring erupted that day? Given Yellowstone's long history, there are plenty of possibilities. Covering an area of 3,500 square miles, the park is America's oldest official national park. And there's no doubt that countless objects have been lost over the years.
A long history
Geologically, Yellowstone has been interesting for millions of years, long before humans roamed the earth. The national park is situated at a point on Earth with an unusually thin crust, where molten magma rises. Over the past centuries, there have been several spectacular eruptions.
Of course, there is also enough seismic activity, which explains why Yellowstone is so unpredictable. Despite the dangers, the landscape is fascinating. Home to 500 geysers and thousands of geothermal features, when white settlers arrived here in the 19th century, they believed it resembled something hellish.
Myths and rumors
The reports from settlers claiming to see hot rivers and explosions were initially met with skepticism. In 1869, an expedition finally took place to investigate what would one day be known as Yellowstone National Park.
It didn't take long for it to be confirmed that the myths and rumors about this incredible place were indeed true. Looking back, the skepticism is understandable. Anyone who has visited Yellowstone knows how unique and unbelievable it is.
The first of its kind
Years later, the U.S. Congress declared Yellowstone to be a national park, the first protected landscape in America. Over 150 years later, this area remains one of the most visited natural wonders. What is it about Yellowstone Park that attracts approximately four million people every year? For many, it's the active geysers and the guarantee of witnessing their eruptions.
The park is home to "Old Faithful," an impressive geyser that erupts about 20 times a day, which can even be predicted accurately.
Yellowstone National Park, home to the famous Old Faithful geyser, may seem like a serene and beautiful natural wonder.
However, beneath its picturesque landscape lies a hidden threat - an inactive supervolcano that experts believe will eventually erupt.
Impossible to predict
The Yellowstone volcano last erupted approximately 640,000 years ago, leading many to question if another eruption is overdue. If such an event were to occur, experts predict that it could result in millions of casualties.
While fear of the Yellowstone supervolcano is widespread, many experts argue that there is no cause for immediate concern. Geological history shows that such eruptions have only happened three times in the past, making it impossible to accurately predict when the next one may occur. Additionally, there are doubts about whether there is enough magma beneath Yellowstone to cause a catastrophic explosion.
Stay on the path
Nevertheless, it is crucial not to underestimate the dangers posed by Yellowstone, even in its inactive state. The park's geothermal activity already claims the lives of approximately 20 people each year. This includes incidents such as individuals attempting to swim in boiling hot water, resulting in fatal consequences.
In light of these dangers, visitors are urged to stay on designated paths and maintain a safe distance from the geysers. However, not everyone adheres to these instructions. In 2018, a man was arrested for attempting to approach one of the geyser openings and even sticking his head inside. This reckless behavior, captured on video, could have ended disastrously.
Problems with tourists
Another incident occurred a year later when a couple was photographed ignoring warning signs and trespassing near an active geyser. Although they managed to escape unharmed, they later faced criminal charges for their dangerous stunt.
The eruption of Ear Spring in September 2018 revealed decades' worth of relics, adding a new dimension to the Yellowstone experience. These objects had been buried deep within the earth before being propelled upward by the force of the thermal explosion. What exactly lay hidden beneath the park?
Old clothes and soap
Unfortunately, people have been throwing objects into Yellowstone geysers for hundreds of years. Reports suggest that even in the 19th century, researchers found evidence of dirty laundry being thrown into the geysers, essentially using them as primitive washing machines. Later, individuals even threw soap into the openings, believing it could trigger an eruption.
Modern objects have also found their way into the geysers. In 2014, a tourist lost control of a drone while flying it over the Grand Prismatic Spring, causing it to fall into one of the openings and potentially causing permanent changes to the geyser.
Who is hungry?
Some visitors have even attempted to use the geothermal landscape for cooking purposes. The Fishing Cone Geyser, located near Yellowstone Lake, was a popular spot for fishermen to cook their catch by holding it over the steam. However, like many areas in Yellowstone, this seemingly harmless activity turned out to be perilous. It was discovered that the water in the geyser contained arsenic, prompting fishermen to abruptly cease their cooking endeavors.
While these incidents may seem unrelated, they all highlight the need for caution when visiting Yellowstone National Park. As beautiful and awe-inspiring as it may be, this natural wonder holds hidden dangers that should never be underestimated.
Determination at its Finest
In August 2020, a man was caught bringing two chickens and some kitchen utensils to the Yellowstone Shoshone Geyser Basin. Although the man's intentions were not clear, it was evident that he was not there for hiking. He was fined $1,200 for his actions.
The Ear Spring Geyser wouldn't have been a suitable place to roast chickens. Located on Geyser Hill, Ear Spring is one of the sleepiest openings in the area. It had only erupted a few times in the past sixty years and had been inactive for 14 years until this incident occurred in September.
An Impressive Explosion
The eruption of Ear Spring in 2004 was nothing compared to the impressive explosion in 2018. Reports claim that the latter eruption was the strongest since 1957. While it would have been overshadowed by the 130-foot high outflow of the Old Faithful, it still would have been a sight to behold.
On September 15th, a camera capturing the Old Faithful recorded the unexpected eruption of Ear Spring. For several minutes, the explosion forcefully shot a jet of water and steam about 30 feet into the sky above Geyser Hill. When everything calmed down, the park rangers found more than they had expected.
"After Ear Spring erupted, employees found a strange collection of objects scattered across the landscape," stated a 2018 Facebook post by Yellowstone. Some items had historical significance, while others had a more modern origin.
When Ear Spring erupted, discarded objects that had been buried underground for decades emerged. And it wasn't just typical food packaging and beverage cans, as one might imagine. They found a giant slag stone stuck in the geyser for inexplicable reasons. They also discovered a pacifier that was likely over 90 years old.
How Did Things Get There?
But that's not all. The park employees also found metal signs indicating bears, parts of a shoe, plastic pieces, and coins. But how did these objects make their way into the geyser in the first place?
Among all these unusual finds, there were a total of 100 different currencies, suggesting that tourists had thrown coins into the geyser, perhaps hoping for good luck. This eruption proved why this is a particularly bad idea.
Clogging the Vents
"These types of objects damage the hot springs and geysers," the Facebook statement said. "The next time Ear Spring erupts, we hope it only consists of water and rocks." Rebecca Rolad, who works for Yellowstone, explained what happens when objects clog the geysers and openings.
She said, "When the vents get completely blocked, as has happened many times before, it can cause the source to dry up and become inactive." She even provided an example of this situation, as it had occurred with the Handkerchief Pool.
As the name suggests, the Handkerchief Pool was particularly exciting for tourists who would throw dirty handkerchiefs into the water, only to see them emerge clean moments later. After several years, the pool became clogged and is now inactive.
Ear Spring was not the only geyser to become active again in September 2018. Due to the unexpected explosion, there were additional impacts in the park. Three days later, a new opening appeared near a walking trail.
Yellowstone National Park's
According to experts from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 2018, the entire earth "breathes" within an 8 foot radius, rising and falling by 15cm every ten minutes. They further explained that this new activity in the area will continue for several more months.
Currently, there are no further reports of a Yellowstone geyser promising additional artifacts. However, park employees have started cataloging what has already been found. In a 2018 article by CNN, it was stated that the more interesting findings will be displayed in a museum.
Telling a Story
"Such things can tell a story, like how people used the springs when they visited the park, and that belongs in a museum," explained Colleen Curry. But despite the artifacts, employees of Yellowstone National Park agree that visitors should not litter the park.
Incidents like the one with the Handkerchief Pool should definitely be avoided. The Morning Glory Pool also suffered a similar fate. It used to be a beautiful blue pool at the back of the park. For years, tourists threw trash into it, changing the ecosystem.
Secrets of the Past
Just like Ear Spring, Morning Glory required a geothermal event to reveal the secrets of the past. In 1950, employees lowered the water level of the pool, causing the geyser to erupt. The eruption brought forth all kinds of objects, including cloth, socks, towels, and coins.
The eruption of Ear Spring in 2018 once again showed that visitors still haven't learned their lesson. To protect this unique ecosystem, the area should not be polluted. The National Park's Facebook page now calls for action. "You too can help by leaving nothing behind in the park!" it states.