Students walking along College Row recently may have noticed a geyser of steam billowing from a manhole outside the President’s Office. According to an e-mail from Associate Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe and Associate Director of Utilities Peter Staye to The Argus, the steam is called “flash” vapor, which occurs when rain or groundwater comes in contact with hot surfaces in the manhole.

Another manhole on the southwest corner of Fayerweather was also spouting smaller amounts of steam, although it has now stopped.

Facilities has not scheduled repairs until after Commencement because pumping the manhole would require a campus-wide steam shutdown.

“A vacuum truck will be used to pump both manholes after the groundwater has a chance to run off,” Staye wrote. “If we did it today, the manhole would fill up again by tomorrow. “

While the manhole has been blocked off with wooden railings, Topshe and Staye said that it is not dangerous.

“Though the condensed vapor is warm, it is not of a temperature that would harm someone that came in contact with it in passing, though it would be unwise to attempt to stay in the release,” Staye wrote.

The steam should become less visible as outdoor temperatures increase.

  • Navid

    I thought finding this would be so arduous but it’s a berzee!