The world has been watching Yellowstone with a wary eye for years now, waiting for some kind of sign that the area's resident supervolcano will either erupt or continue its fitful slumber.
Steamboat Geyser hasn't erupted three times in a year since 2003, but Reuters reports that it hit that mark on Friday-which might prompt concern that something bigger is about to happen at Yellowstone National Park, which sits on top of a 44-mile-wide active volcano. And the last eruption before these three in a row happened in September 2014.
The U.S. Geological Survey's Yellowstone Volcano Observatory said the current eruptions were smaller than the explosions seen at the geyser in the past.
Over the past six weeks, the Steamboat geyser has erupted three times, including once this week.
Steamboat, located in the park's Norris Geyser Basin, can shoot a column of hot water up to 300 feet into the air. The magma chamber that lies under Yellowstone is estimated to be a single connected chamber, about 60km long, 29km wide, and 5 to 12km deep.
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Michael Poland, scientists in charge of the observatory, concluded that the unusual eruptions that occurred on March 15, April 19, and Friday could indicate a thermal disturbance underneath the geyser's basin.
Scientists aren't sure whether the new activity is due to a new thermal disturbance or whether the geyser is merely entering a period of more frequent eruptions, as in the 1980s, when numerous eruptions from the geyser were separated by weeks or even days.
We previously reported Steamboat had erupted March 15, 2018.
"Most geysers are unpredictable, unlike Old Faithful and a few other well-known examples", Poland noted.