After going dormant for years, one of Yellowstone National Park‘s biggest geysers is erupting once again. Ledge Geyser, the second-largest geyser in the park’s famed Norris Geyser Basin, shot out a huge (and loud) jet of of boiling water on April 28, about three years after its last eruption, the Billings Gazette reports. According to the National Park Service, the geyser shoots a plume of water 125 feet into the air at an angle, sometimes projecting it up to 220 feet away.
Although nearby Steamboat Geyser is bigger—during major eruptions, it can reach 300 feet into the air—Ledge is known for being noisy.
“It’s really a fun one because it’s really loud,” park geologist Jeff Hungerford told the Billings Gazette.
The noise is due to the constricted openings in the rock that the superheated water must pass through during an eruption, Hungerford explained.
Yellowstone has more thermal features and geysers than anywhere else on earth, and the park’s geothermal attractions have been putting on an impressive display lately. The New York Times reports that Steamboat Geyser has been erupting every two weeks since March 2018, breaking the record for most eruptions in a year, and other geysers in the area have awoken from dormant phases as well. While many Yellowstone visitors flock to Old Faithful, which generally erupts every 90 minutes, most of the other geysers aren’t so punctual—they erupt sporadically, and it’s impossible to predict when they will be active.
Ledge has gone through several active and dormant periods. According to the NPS, it has erupted at regular intervals of 14 hours in the past. It went quiet from 1979 to late 1993, and then erupted every four to six days in 1994 and 1995. Scientists are still trying to determine what factors affect the geysers’ activity, and much of what happens underground remains a mystery.
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