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Observations for 2021 April 29

The day started with having to dismount the bikes near the curve on the bikepath. It was blocked by icy snow drifts one to two feet high with narrow paths over them. Then the trail past the Round Spring group was a minefield of bison deposits.

Arrived at Grotto, and it was obvious that the Pressure Pool was full, as was Grotto Fountain. Almost immediately, Grotto started erupting. Spa was full and overflowing heavily, but I didn't see any convection or boiling in the minute or so I was there.

Went on to check out Fan & Mortar. Nothing exciting, so off to Giant. Looked like last year, with the platform dry and Bijou on strong for about half an hour.

It was time for Daisy, so went over to take a look at the Group. Splendid doesn't seem to have changed, either. The duration of the Daisy eruption, however, was only 2m54s, which is much shorter than I'd like it to be.

Finally it was time to head to Grand. Got over there and after a one Turban eruption interval, got a nice, short One Burst Grand eruption. Joked that I expected 8-3/4 minutes and got 9m06s, and no attempt to refill as far as I could tell.

What had to be the strangest part of the day occurred just after the Grand eruption. As we were leaving, we saw Bulger start. So of course we had to wait to see what would happen in Bulger's Hole. (Nothing). While standing there, I thought I heard someone singing over behind the trees at the Grand benches. I turned to look, and there were two people walking past the tree toward me approaching the Rift bridge. Behind them, on a bike was a man with a guitar slung across his front trying to pass them. He didn't make it, sliding on that slippery plastic walkway, with the guitar and him at least staying on the boardwalk. He took his time getting put back together, then proceeded to slowly ride the bike past us while being informed that he was supposed to park his bike. He got over to Spasmodic, blocked the walkway while flipping over his bike and starting to investigate the front wheel, like it was no longer straight.

Finally, Bulger ended and I went over toward Oval to get some photos of Oval. He started running toward me, asking if I had sunscreen. I told him I wouldn't provide it too him. He went back to the bike repairs. Got my pictures of Oval, and Sawmill, and left the area. From Crested, it appeared he was still working on the bike.

As for Oval, it has heated up. There is now only a band of orange and black around the high water mark. Sawmill is also showing signs of heating up down in the vent.

Oval Spring
Sawmill Geyser

If it was just Oval heating up, I'd be concerned that it means Spasmodic is asserting even more control over the Sawmill Group. But Sawmill is also showing signs of recovery, so this may be good.

By then the Beehive eruption interval was getting pretty long, so we knew we needed to head over that way. Did a quick trip around Geyser Hill to find Aurum in between eruptions. Got back to Beehive and it wasn't long before the Indicator started. The wind cooperated, pushing the spray over Plume, allowing a nice close view of the water column.

Plume itself is interesting. The water level and the splashing seems higher than what I saw after the first Giantess eruption last year. The water level was visible most of the time, and some of the droplets were going as much as 1/2 meter above the rim.

Farther down, it appears Bronze Spring has changed from what I remember. It is now a large, cool pool, much larger than the old sinter rim, with heavy overflow down a couple of channels in the still green grass. I haven't paid much attention to it, so it could have been this way for a while, but the runoff channels seem new.

Bronze Spring on Geyser Hill

Later it was time for Castle. It turned out it ended up having an interval of over 14 hours. So I saw the start from Sawmill, which seems typical for me. And because of this, I walked up onto first West Triplet in eruption, and then Grand starting as I was taking notes on West Triplet. This One Burst Grand eruption was less than nine minutes long. West Triplet quit shortly after Grand, and other than Percolator, I didn't seen any activity in the sputs at the base of the hill.

Since it was a nice day, it seemed like a good idea to check out Fan & Mortar again. First we saw an nondescript cycle lasting just under an hour. Near the end we saw a start from Riverside, and were about to leave when we noticed heavy steam from the Main Vent. Then there was splashing, so now had to stay.

Over the next hour and a half we saw Bottom Vent slowly put water down its runoff channel. But it never had an eruption, instead surging at the same time Lower Mortar surged. The splashing in Main Vent continued through a couple of long, River Vent pauses. That activity finally ended as the Fan Vents took over about an hour into the cycle. They started out slow, but with high, visible water levels. But they never looked too good. For good measure, the Frying Pan and the steamvent inside Mortars amphitheater were active too. Then the whole system just sort of died down.

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Observations for 2021 April 28

At around 5-1/2 days, I didn't expect New Crater/Steamboat to look promising, and it wasn't. Spent about 20 minutes in the area. The activity was mostly steamy North Vent, but there was some South splashing with joining in with it. There was runoff, but the South Vent splashzone was dry. At the bridge there was a trickle of water flowing out into the debris fan.

Cistern appeared to be overflowing heavily in all directions not obscured by the steam.

There wasn't as much change it damaged area as I expected. There may have been more trees behind the vents missing their tops, but that was about it. Last year there was debris all over the bridge at the bottom, and nothing like that this year. The North Vent runoff channel didn't seem changed much, either. The steaming tree trunk is still standing.

There were some large glaciers, as high as 1/2 meter, in the shaded areas between Dr. Allan's Paint Pots and the bench, and down below beyond Cistern. there it was higher than the bench, and made getting through interesting. The bottom of these ice blocks were solid, not just compressed snow.

I don't expect anything to happen there for a couple of days, so let's see how wrong I am.

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Soda Springs Observations for 2021 April 23

Found a feature that really does erupt "every hour on the hour."

Site of the Soda Springs Geyser

This is the CO2 geyser in Soda Springs, Idaho. It's located in a small city park off the main street, behind the businesses, and about the same distance from the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The eruption we saw started about 54 seconds after noon, and lasted almost exactly eight minutes. There appears to be a perpetual spouter erupting to about a meter when the upper vent is quiet. It wasn't as tall during the eruption, but after the eruption seemed to be perhaps twice as high.

The eruption comes from a nozzle above the spouter. I didn't try to measure a height, but estimated it to be around 15-20 meters. Both the start and the end of the eruption are abrupt. At the end the water was still falling well after the stop.

The travertine mound it has built up is an impressive, a dark orange lump that wouldn't look too out of place at Mammoth. It seems to grow pretty fast, as over on the side it's been removed because it was starting to encroach onto the nearby cemetery. The boardwalk near it is heavily encrusted with mineral deposits, and there was even a mineral encrusted snowbank off to one side.

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Mickey Hot Springs Observations for 2021 April 21

Mickey Hot Springs isn't on the edge of nowhere, it's right in the middle. It was about 150 miles from Winnemucca, and the last 30 miles or so was on gravel road.

It was windy the whole drive, but fortunately we arrived mid-day on a cloudless day, so it wasn't too bad. Had never been there before, so discovering new features was fun.

The "Morning Glory Pool" was overflowing slightly into the bathtub dug into the runoff channel. Below that, down slope we could hear the activity before we could see it. There are two noisy fumaroles at the north end of the active area. South of them were a number of erupting and overflowing features.

There were two small pools separated by a meter or two which were intermittently erupting to about a half meter. The one of the east (#28?) had a large splash zone, implying stronger activity, while the one on the wet was overflowing nicely, and probably the primary contributor of much of the runoff to the south along a well defined channel. In addition, above it was another smaller, unconnected pool which occasionally burst a few centimeters high. That, it appears, is the "Mickey Geyser", #23.

Erupting features

The other splashing vent appears to be the southern end of #26.

The fumaroles were #27 and #30, the latter appears to be larger and more active than what I saw in photos taken earlier.

We saw evidence of dead mudpots, but nothing recent. Large areas between the northern area and the active features were covered in a fine, white power which seemed like something produced by mudpots.

Perhaps it's due to the isolation, but the area was free of the usual trash and casual vandalism I've seen in most other thermal areas. There are some obviously engineered catch basins for bathing, but they are at least not modifications to existing features or runoff channels as far as I could tell.

Also, it's worth noting that we had excellent cell phone data connection (Verizon) in the area.

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Steamboat Springs Observations for 2021 April 18

Steamboat Springs is long gone. There's now a fence right along the property line, restricting access to the BLM portion of the terrace. This means that only those features on private land are accessible without crossing the fence, which separates #10 from #42, for example.

Sign on fence blocking access to thermal area.

Not that it matters. All the vents are dry, and there's no evidence of any activity anywhere. A few of the cracks have plants growing in them. Perhaps on a cold day there might be whiffs of fog coming from hole.

The vents themselves are mostly recognizable, although I didn't do a full inventory. For some reason there is a long, capped pipe sticking out of #42w, perhaps there's a thermal probe of some kind down there.

Vent of #42w and #42 in the background.

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Long Valley Observations for 2021 April 17

Passing through Long Valley, Calif., so Suzanne and I had to visit Hot Creek. My last visit there was thirty-five years ago, so things have changed. We spent a bit more than an hour there.

The walkways and access is now completely different. Back then, there were trails down near the creek next to the erupting features, and a bridge across the creek. Swimming was also permitted back then. This time the area is fenced off, and signs on the road announced that the area was closed at night.

The previous visit, all the activity was on the south bank of the creek. One of the craters was erupting as much as seven or eight meters high, and there were several other hot pools near it. Those craters are now all dead, with the geyser showing greenish water well below the rim.

In line with those craters, on the north bank was where there was activity, There are three pools that were not there during the previous visit, two of them hot and blue. They appear to be on a linear trend line from the old activity. The water levels of the blue pools were different, with the higher pool, about a quarter to half meter higher. It was continuously pouring water into the lower pool, and all three were pouring that water into the creek. We saw no change in the flow during our visit, although one time, due to the way the runoff can be hidden by the surrounding ground, I thought it had quit because I couldn't hear the runoff.

There were also at least two areas that appeared to be convection in the creek itself. Again, didn't notice any change in the brief time of our visit.

On the way out, stopped at the Casa Diablo powerplant. It too is changed, not surprisingly. The old US-395 road is now blocked off, and where the old hot ground and steam vents were on the northeast side of the road is now occupied by a generator complex. There's no good views of the area. Within the fenced in area, near where the old Casa Diablo Geyser used to be was something steaming heavily. This activity seemed to vary, but again, fences prevented any good views. There is still one area of thermally altered ground open to the west of the complex.