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Anytime Steamboat erupts, it's a special event in Yellowstone.
And it's been happening more frequently lately.
The geyser, which has had intervals ranging from four days to 50 years, has had more major eruptions in the 21st century than any time since the early 1980s. The geyser fell silent from 1991 until May of 2000. Since then, it has erupted five times: April 2002, September 2002, March 2003, April 2003 and on Wednesday.
During the month of October 2003, 64 earthquakes were located in the Yellowstone region. The largest shock too occur during this report period was a magnitude 2.6 earthquake on October 9th at 1:22 UTC, located about
23 miles east northeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming.
Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis announced today that effective October 9, 2003, at 8:00 a.m., portions of Norris Geyser Basin that have been closed since July 23, 2003, will reopen to the public. Approximately 4,800 feet of the 5,800-foot temporary closure will reopen, with only the portion of the Back Basin trail from Green Dragon Spring to the Porkchop Geyser intersection remaining closed. (There are approximately 12,500 feet of trails in the Norris Geyser Basin.)
APHIS, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has joined with the Montana Department of Livestock in recent years in the routine killing of Yellowstone bison that stray beyond park boundaries. The agencies contend that the slaughter is necessary to stop the spread of the bacterial disease brucellosis from bison to domestic livestock, even though no case of transmission from wild bison to livestock has ever been documented.
"The public doesn't even know this research site exists," says Steve Torbit, director of the NWF Rocky Mountain National Resource Center, "and yet it has been under APHIS control for three years."
Below the blue waters of Yellowstone Lake, a mysterious dome 2,100 feet across and 100 feet high is causing concern among scientists and citizens who don't know whether it's a harmless curiosity or a hazard on the verge of exploding. The dome, also called a bulge, is less than a mile from shore and was recently explored by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, using unmanned submarines and sonar.
"It could be the precursor to a hydrothermal explosion," said Lisa Morgan, a geologist leading the team.
Hydrothermal blasts occur when super-heated water, often under extreme pressure, rapidly flashes to steam, hurling rocks and sometimes gouging out huge craters.
News of the dome comes at a time of increased activity beneath Yellowstone, which experienced a magnitude 4.4 earthquake in August.