Yellowstone Geyser Erupts, Spews Up Trash From The 1930s

"The water had just washed out under the boardwalk and had strewn trash all around."

a geyser in yellowstone spewed decades-old trash
Traveller70 / Shutterstock

"The water had just washed out under the boardwalk and had strewn trash all around."

A geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupted for the first time in decades, and along with it came an eruption of trash from the 1930’s that had been carelessly thrown into it, MSN is reporting.

Unlike Old Faithful, which has been erupting, well, faithfully, every 35 to 120 minutes for as long as anyone has been keeping track, some geysers can go years or even decades without erupting. Such was the case with Ear Spring, which until this year had been dormant since 1957. When the long-sleepy geyser began erupting again beginning last month, it didn’t just shoot water 30 feet into the air: it also shot up a bunch of trash, which just goes to show that disrespecting natural wonders isn’t a new thing.

Yellowstone National Park ranger Rebecca Roland says that when Ear Spring erupted, the area around it suddenly found itself awash in unexpected debris. Among the detritus was a concrete block, old cans, some coins, even a baby’s pacifier, all dating to the Hoover administration.

“The water had just washed out under the boardwalk and had strewn trash all around.”

In fact, this very thing has been happening for decades around Yellowstone. Roland says that so much trash has been thrown into so many geysers that an untold number of them have been artificially plugged by careless tourists.

“You might think that if you toss something in a hot spring or in a geyser that it disappears, but it doesn’t disappear. It stays in that and what normally happens is you can actually plug up a feature and kill the feature. And that’s happened in many places in the park.”

Similarly, in a statement on the park’s official Facebook page, caretakers reminded the public that throwing trash into a geyser is at once disrespectful of other visitors and damaging to the geysers’ fragile ecosystems.

“Foreign objects can damage hot springs and geysers. 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!”

As for the historic trash, it may actually wind up going into a museum, both as a reminder not to throw trash into geysers, and as a sort of time capsule of what Yellowstone was like in the time period.

Meanwhile, other geysers in Yellowstone are coming back to life after decades – or even centuries – of silence, according to Popular Mechanics. So busy has the park’s Geyser Hill become with thermal activity lately that a popular boardwalk trail through the area has been closed due to safety concerns.