Yellowstone: World's Tallest Geyser Rocked by Strange Eruptions

Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is the world's tallest active geyser, capable of shooting jets of hot water an incredible 300 feet into the air. However these eruptions are relatively rare, normally occurring years apart.

Recently, though, Steamboat has been unusually active, erupting three times in the past six weeks (on March 15, April 19 and April 27), according to scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO). The last time Steamboat erupted three times in a single year was all the way back in 2003.

The two most recent eruptions have been relatively small by Steamboat's standards, although they ejected around 10 times more water than a standard discharge at the park's famous Old Faithful Geyser—named after its highly predictable eruptions, which occur roughly every 35 to 120 minutes.

USGS scientists have suggested that the recent unusual activity could be explained by thermal disturbances in the basin below the geyser. Alternatively, "it might just reflect the randomness of geysers," Michael Poland, head scientist at the YVO, told Reuters.

While scientists have been unable to pinpoint the exact reasons behind this increased activity, they stress it's not a sign that an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano—on which the park sits—is likely.

"There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent," Poland told The Washington Post.

The most recent lava flow from this volcano occurred around 70,000 years ago and most geologists think that the chances of another eruption happening any time soon are extremely remote.

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The Steamboat Geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, June 21, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Steamboat has been more active during the early 21st Century than at any other time since the early 1980s, according to the USGS. Between 1991 and 2000 there were no large eruptions. But since May 2000, 10 significant eruptions have occurred.

Yellowstone park is home to a vast hydrothermal system, including mudpots, steam vents, hot springs and the world's greatest concentration of geysers.