A Yellowstone Geyser Blasted Out Years-Old Tourist Trash

Ear Spring geyser / USGS

At Yellowstone National Park last month, visitors had the chance to see a time capsule of sorts. It just wasn’t in the way they expected.

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The Ear Spring geyser erupted with a shot of water bigger than the geyser had been recorded doing in decades. But that wasn’t the major surprise. When the geyser was all finished erupting, park officials found numerous pieces of tourist trash that had built up over decades, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Some of the items included old coins, a baby pacifier, old beer cans, cigarette butts, part of a cement block, and an old pen, among many other items.



“Employees found a strange assortment of items strewn across the landscape around its vent!” Yellowstone National Park officials wrote on Facebook with a photo of the items. “Some are clearly historic: they’ll be inventoried by curators and may end up in Yellowstone’s archives.”

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Here’s a look at everything officials pulled after the eruption:

While not as famous a geyser as Old Faithful is, Ear Spring became the center of attention after the eruption. The U.S. Geological Survey wrote that the eruption at Ear Spring, which reached around 30 feet high, was the largest in size recorded at the hot pool since 1957. Officials chalked up the abnormally-high eruption to small changes in the “thermal features on Geyser Hill” and that the eruption also ejected rocks and natural materials along with the trash and other items.

Here’s a look at some of the park rangers speaking about the trash that came up from Ear Spring:

This is what Ear Spring looked like after the eruption:

Ear Spring geyser / USGS

Here’s the geyser erupting:

“Foreign objects can damage hot springs and geysers,” Yellowstone National Park officials wrote on social media. “The next time Ear Spring erupts we hope it’s nothing but natural rocks and water. You can help by never throwing anything into Yellowstone’s thermal features!”

Next time you head to Yellowstone, make sure you put your trash in the proper place. And always remember to behave—don’t be like the bison guy, you could end up in jail.

If you’re planning a trip soon to a National Park, here are some tips, lessons, and guides to help you out:

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