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Emeritus Professor to Discuss Yellowstone’s Geysers at UW-Park Service Research Center

July 3, 2018
man on horseback looking at camera
University of Utah emeritus Professor Robert Smith, photographed at a Thorofare cabin near Yellowstone National Park, will discuss “Anatomy of Old Faithful and Yellowstone: magma from earth’s core to hot springs and geysers” at the UW-National Park Service Research Center Thursday, July 12. (Robert Smith Photo)

A distinguished professor of geophysics and geology will discuss the anatomy of Old Faithful and Yellowstone National Park at the University of Wyoming National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center Thursday, July 12. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

Robert Smith, a University of Utah emeritus professor and coordinating scientist at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, will discuss “Anatomy of Old Faithful and Yellowstone: magma from earth’s core to hot springs and geysers” as part of the Harlow Summer Seminars.

He will speak at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, located north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue, at a cost of $5 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are not required.

Smith and his team have conducted detailed seismic studies of the plumbing anatomy of Old Faithful, the iconic geyser of Yellowstone, to determine its three-dimensional structure and dynamic eruption properties.

“We found that Old Faithful eruptions do not have a notable seismic signal, but large seismic signals of a precursor tremor every 95 minutes just prior to the eruption that we can now predict within seconds with the seismic signals,” he says.

His group is conducting detailed seismic studies of the world’s tallest geyser, Steamboat. He will explain, during his talk, the initial results on monitoring the giant geyser.

head portrait of a man
Robert Smith will lecture about Yellowstone National Park’s underground anatomy during UW’s Harlow Summer Seminars. (Robert Smith Photo)

For 51 years, Smith has led a large group of scientists and students working on the dynamics of earthquakes and volcanoes, and of the western American Plate. He has worked in Yellowstone for 61 years, beginning before college, and has supervised 70 graduate student theses.

Formerly called the AMK Ranch Talk Series, the Harlow Summer Seminars program is named after retired UW Department of Zoology and Physiology Professor Hank Harlow, who helped make the UW-NPS Research Center a significant center for research and community outreach. Harlow began the popular weekly public seminars during the summer months.

For more information about the Harlow Summer Seminars, contact Michael Dillon at (307) 314-9833 or

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