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Green River Observations for 2020 October 17

This morning we checked out Woodside Geyser. This feature is located on private property, part of the old town of Woodside and now completely off limits. Based on memory and satellite maps, we figured our best opportunity to see anything of the feature would be from the Union Pacific railroad embankment to the west, just north of the bridge across the Price River. Photos online of the geyser from a few years ago show it erupting quite high, maybe 40 feet, which would mean it should be easily visible. Reports back then also made it sound fairly frequent, something in the range of two hours.

The old route of U.S.6 used to run right next to the geyser. It's location seems to be visible on the satellite map, and we eventually figured out where that area was visible from our embankment vantage point. It was between a couple of abandoned buildings.

Unfortunately, that area seems to have changed, It seems to have been torn up, with the tan formations disturbed and broken up. It seemed like there was some new (as in the last year or so) piping and plumbing around there, along with a couple of unweathered power poles. This is in contrast to the rest of the area, which has that weathered look. A tree visible in the photos from then appears now must be a stump. And nowhere did we see any evidence of water flowing or pooling or even damp areas.

Were there about 90 minutes before finally coming to the conclusion that the geyser there has been considerably altered, if not destroyed. No point in sticking around.

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Green River Observations for 2020 October 16

Made a road trip to visit the cold water geysers of Utah along with the Keller family. I've never been to any before, so was all new to me.

Champaign Geyser is about a 25 mile drive south of Green River, Utah, mostly on well maintained gravel road. The washboarding on the road tended to get worse the farther one went. The feature lies just north of the San Raphael River, and we arrived there to find it in eruption.

It's a drilled well driven by carbon dioxide, with a water temperature barely above the air temperature. The vent is tiny, in the middle of a small semicircular cone built up from mineral deposits. Surrounding that is a broad platform with lots of terracing.

The nature of the eruption is unlike that seen when the water is boiling. The water ejected consists of a column of foamy water thrown to about a meter high, frequently cut off by gas causing droplets to be expelled up to three to four meters. These noisy cutoffs would also cause the formation of small water droplets, so we could even get an occasional rainbow.

The eruption continued for the half hour we were there, considerably weaker toward the end of the visit. Since the intervals seem to be something in the range of eight hours, there wasn't going to be another eruption until around sunset or later.

From there it was backtrack and head to Crystal Geyser. The road starts out as unmaintained but paved, then turns to gravel. Unlike Champaign, we weren't alone. There were a number of campers along the river, and people playing with their motorized toys came and went in waves.

It appeared that the last eruption had been a while, since much of the platform was dry, and there was only a little overflow. There are holes in the pipe making up the vent, and water would periodically flow more heavily from them. The intervals were about seven minutes. The water coming out was slightly foamy. There was visible distortion in the air over the vent from the gasses coming out. The foaming and gas bubbles could also be heard as we waited nearby.

There is a wide platform with numerous terraces and terracettes leading down to the river. These formations seem fairly strong, and some of the dry ones had dead tamarask growing on them, and scalloping was still visible. In the catch basins around the vent were numerous tiny to small rounded pebbles and stones. Most of the formations are a dark red or dark tan.

After a wait of about an hour, we witnessed some short, minor activity. This started with foaming from some small bullet holes in the casing. As the foamy water rose over the next minute, more holes, higher up, joined in. Finally there was some foaming about an inch high or so from the vent, lasting for about a minute. Then everything died down.

After another minor, and about 90 minutes later, activity started up again. This time, the foaming got stronger, and a true eruption started. This consisted of a column of foamy water about six to eight feet high, with a few bursts during the first minutes to about twelve to fifteen feet. At first we thought this might be just a strong minor, but as the activity continued, came to the conclusion that this is now the major activity. After about 20 minutes or so of this, we decided to leave, in part because it was mid afternoon, and the activity had attracted a lot of people.

It was instructive to see how people behaved here, when compared to what is considered normal and proper behavior among Yellowstone's thermal features. The most important difference is that here the water is not deadly. We saw multiple dogs off leash running through the shallow pool surrounding the vent. A few lapped at the water, but not for long, as I'm pretty sure the water isn't pleasant tasting. We saw children playing in it, and tossing the formation stones around. As the major started, there were several small children standing right next to the vent that needed rounding up. During the eruption at least two people doused their heads in the foamy spray. And that doesn't begin to take into account all the people wander all over the formations before the eruption.