Old Faithful, the famous geyser in Yellowstone National Park, may be silent after erupting continuously for nearly 800 years, experts found.
According to a recently published study, researchers found more than 40 mineralized wood remains near the geyser dated between AD 1233 and 1362, a period associated with “severe, multidecadal regional droughts.” Experts believe those severe droughts could recur by the middle of this century, causing the geyser’s eruptions to subside or stop altogether.
“Climate models predict increasingly severe droughts by the mid-21st century, suggesting that geyser eruptions may become less frequent or cease completely,”
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According to LiveScience, the researchers found that the interval between Old Faithful eruptions increased dramatically. In the 1950s, the intervals ranged from 60 to 65 minutes. Since 2001, the intervals have increased from 90 to 94 minutes.
In an interview with Science, the study’s lead author, Shaul Hurwitz, said the discovery of the mineralized wood samples led to an “aha” moment as he found they were all from approximately the same time period.
“When I sent in the samples for radiocarbon dating I didn’t know if they would be hundreds or thousands of years old,” Hurwitz said in the interview. “It was an ‘aha!’ when they all regrouped within a period of one hundred years in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries “.
At present, the area where the geyser is located has no trees due to the hot, alkali-rich discharge from it.
The research was published in Geophysical Research Letters.
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