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Yellowstone National Park's Steamboat geyser, the world's tallest, sees rare eruption

08/01/2013 12:57 EDT | Updated 10/01/2013 05:12 EDT
BILLINGS, Mont. - Old Faithful it's not.

Yellowstone National Park's Steamboat Geyser — the world's tallest — has erupted for the first time in more than eight years.

Park geologist Hank Heasler (HESS-ler) says Wednesday night's nine-minute blast sent steaming hot water an estimated 200 to 300 feet in the air.

Unlike Old Faithful, which spews water like clockwork every hour-and-a-half, no one knows when Steamboat will erupt next.

In the past, it's gone as long as 50 years without a major event. In 1964, it erupted a record 29 times.

Steamboat is one of more than 500 geysers at Yellowstone, which boasts the largest collection of hydrothermal features in the world. They're fueled by cold water seeping into a natural underground plumbing network, where heat from the park's volcano causes the periodic eruptions.

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