Eruption of Yellowstone Geyser Spews Decades of Human Garbage 30-Feet into the Air

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If you made a wish by throwing a coin into the Ear Spring geyser in the last 60-years, there’s a good chance it’s been reversed. On September 15 Yellowstone National Park’s Ear Spring geyser erupted in its most violent display since 1957 sending sprays of steaming water and chunks of rock and dirt up to 30 feet in the air. And also ejecting the decades worth of coins thrown in by hopeful wishers.

Coins were to be expected though, but what surprised park officials were the decades of man-made garbage projected from Ear Spring — some of which dated back to the 1930s, reports Live Science.

“After Ear Spring erupted on September 15, employees found a strange assortment of items strewn across the landscape around its vent,” officials wrote on the Yellowstone National Park Facebook page. “Some are clearly historic: they’ll be inventoried by curators and may end up in Yellowstone’s archives.”

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The geyser ejected nearly 100 metal coins during the Sept. 15 eruption. Credit: Yellowstone National Park

Some of the historical trash that Ear Spring coughed up included a large chunk of cinderblock, a broken bottle, several metal warning signs, some old beer cans, plastic cups, cigarette butts, someone’s rubber heel insert, a vintage pacifier from the 1930s and an 8-inch-long plastic drinking straw. Whether these foreign objects were dropped into the geyser accidentally or chucked in on purpose makes no difference. Either way, park officials wrote, it’s bad for the geyser.

Curators considered placing the items in the park’s archives as a reminder: Please, don’t use the springs as a trash can.

“Foreign objects can damage hot springs and geysers,” park officials wrote on Facebook. “The next time Ear Spring erupts we hope it’s nothing but natural rocks and water.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Ear Spring has erupted four times in the last 60 years, most recently in 2004. The geyser is located on Yellowstone’s Geyser Hill, not far from the world-famous Old Faithful. Several other geysers and thermal pools showed increased activity around the time of Ear Spring’s eruption: For instance, a brand-new vent popped up and erupted overnight between Sept. 18 and 19.

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