The Yellowstone volcano is one of the most seismically active places on the planet Every year up to 3000 earthquakes hit the Yellowstone region Yellowstone is also home to a volcanic hotspot that has caused three major eruptions in the past two years3 million years, one of which is 2500 times larger than the Mt. St. Helens in Washington State in 1980 The US National Park is also home to the world’s highest concentration of active geysers with features such as the world famous Steamboat Geyser and Old Faithful

The geysers are fed by the Yellowstone hotspot, causing water trapped underground to reach boiling temperatures

When the water boils underground, it reaches temperatures that are hotter than the water boiling on the surface

The water can then rise rapidly to the surface in a flash of steam that drives scorching jets of water and steam to the surface

Although scientists understand how this process works, geologists have very limited access to what is going on below the surface of the park

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However, concentrated efforts have been made to learn more about Yellowstone’s hydrothermal properties and mineralogy by drilling into the park

The very first drilling expedition was conducted between 1929 and 1930 by Clarence N Fenner, who drilled wells in Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin and Norris Geyser Basin

There has been some concern that the drilling could cause damage or other changes to the famous features

Fenner said at the time: “The fear was expressed that drilling a hole would disrupt the underground circulation and disrupt the geyser effect Although this fear was considered unfounded, it was decided to operate outside the main geyser areas but still in the undisputed region of hydrothermal activity “

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the drilling caused changes to the pools and fumaroles near the drilling site

But the efforts laid the foundation for the next expedition, which was carried out almost 40 years later

In the years 1967 to 1968 the USGS carried out drilling tests under the direction of D. white and John M Fine, Yellowstone National Park Chief Naturalist

And although the scientists were confident of their work based on previous experience and Fenne’s research, their wells soon encountered steam eruptions from deep underground

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White wrote of the experience: “Within a few seconds the top cool water was followed by a mixture of boiling water and steam, and the well burst into a violent eruption – a harrowing experience for all of us! Boiling water and steam covered the drilling platform and hid the control levers “

Scientists soon learned how to deal with these eruptions even though they could not be stopped

The outbreak was contained by the USGS and the US National Parks Service (NPS) and the well was plugged

According to Andrew Miller and Professor Ken Sims of the University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics, drilling in Yellowstone has proven to be a challenging but rewarding endeavor

In the latest edition of the USGS ‘Caldera Chronicles, they wrote: “Thanks to this painstaking work and the carefully cataloged rock samples that have been obtained, we are still benefiting from the research drilling and applying new analytical methods to these ancient samples

“The Yellowstone exploration drilling programs have been a scientific gift that has consistently helped us better understand and better preserve Yellowstone’s dynamic hydrothermal systems!”

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World News – USA – Yellowstone Volcano: The drilling attempt triggered a “violent eruption” of scorching steam