A powerful geyser eruption from Yellowstone should terrify more than fill with wonder, as its blast came along with dozens of objects thrown into its mouth by visitors more than a generation ago. This event, though unsual, follows in the long line of equally damaging human activities we have carelessly imposed on the environment.
The dozens of pieces of garbage coming directly from the bowels of the Earth were contemplated by the Yellowstone National Park officials with mixed feelings of sadness, anger and pity. Several days ago, during its largest eruption in 60 years, the Ear Spring geyser spat out a multitude of debris dating back several decades. What could have been a momentous ocassion has instead left behind the bitter taste of a clear crystallization of Humanity's indifference and negligence.
'After Ear Spring erupted on September 15th, the [Park] employees stumbled across a strange assortment of objects scattered across the landscape originating from its vent,' announced Yellowstone officials on social media. 'Some are evidently historic: they will be inventoried by curators and could end up in the Yellowstone archives,' went on the representatives.
An incongruous inventory
Aluminum cans, a piece of concrete, a sheet of crumpled aluminum, a plastic cup and spoon, cigarette butts and many coins... A disparate collection that could easily be blamed on a perplexing garbage dump, but it is in fact that of careless visitors surrounding the geyser. The most surprising artefact? A 1930s pacifier that was unearthed during the steam eruption.
Along with their anecdotal emergence, these sudden reappearances are above all a sign of the recent upsurge in hydrothermal activity. In the past weeks the area around Geyser Hill, which includes the famous Ear Spring in addition to many other geysers, has experienced an unusual restlessness: new vents have appeared and the ground's surface is now home to a multitude of new rifts.
A new geyser embryo has even sprung up on the edge of a highly visited trail, causing the local authorities to shut it down in case of an accident.
No need to worry, according to USGS
This abrupt hydrothermal intensification activity could make some anxious about a possible awakening of the volcano cradled in the Park's basement. However, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) offers some reassurance : 'Changes in hydrothermal buildings in Yellowstone are frequent events and do not reflect changes in the activity of the Yellowstone volcano.'
'There is no sign of impending volcanic eruption,' guarantee the USGS experts. 'There has been no significant increase in seismicity or large-scale variations in soil movement.'
A reminder of humans' environmental footprint
Nature's anger manifesting itself in Yellowstone seems to only graze the surface for now, but the objects it has shot up back to us only go to show just how much any action we undertake reverberates and creeps into even the smallest interstices of the environment. This sad observation is something the park officials have every intention of denouncing.
'Foreign bodies can damage both the hot springs and geysers. The next time Ear Spring erupts, we are dearly hoping it won't be anything more than natural rocks and water,' warn the authorities, who conclude by a piece of common sense (if it is still needed) : 'You can contribute by never throwing anything into the hydrothermal structures of Yellowstone.'