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Predicting Geysers

THE BEST GUESS

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  • A geyser is never early or late and a prediction is simply a good guess of when an eruption might occur. In most cases, predictions are based on information and observations of previous intervals and the length, size, and characteristics of past eruptions.

    Visitors st on benches and await the next eruption of Old Faithful

    It is impossible to predict the eruption time of most geysers because complex interactions take place between constantly changing factors. These include earthquakes, ongoing processes within underground channels, and fluctuations in a system’s water or heat supply. Most geysers share conduits with other hot springs or geysers. At the least, a predictable geyser is separate from other features or is only connected to a feature that also has very steady activity.

    Through the years, observation has revealed that certain geysers have pre-eruption characteristics that provide clues to predict an eruption time. However, these characteristics, not to mention the eruption itself, may change at any time!

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    This work is supported by

    National Science Foundation    Yellowstone Park Foundation

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