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Observations for 10 August 2012

As with yesterday morning, Rift was erupting as I tied the bike down at Castle. Only this time I didn't even get to see a full Turban interval. Arrived during a nice overflow, and it kept on building. It was still too dark to see well, but when Turban started, it was with the sound that only precedes a Grand start.

For some reason, despite it being dead calm, the entire Sawmill Group got rained on during the first parts of the eruption. Another one-burst eruption, but this with two distinctive false pauses at 9 and 11 minutes into the eruption. There were several seconds of silence (again, dark and foggy enough that had to go on sound), then the sudden, sharp jet that always accompanies the end of a die-down in Grand bursting. Grand finally quit after over 12 minutes.

It's far to easy to ignore Daisy and pass it by. With the greater than two hour interval, it's hard to get motivated to go up there at a random time, and much easier to just cycle by to or from Fan & Mortar. So I made one last deliberate attempt to see it today, and ended up with it erupting just as I arrived. Splendid is as dead as it's always been, too.

Except for my second or third day here, every day has been dry, or at least the showers so short and light that they didn't matter. Today the clouds rolled in and stayed, and it looked like only a matter of time before we got dumped on. At least Grand didn't hold off like it would have done in previous years. About an hour there were several nearby lightning strikes, and then the sky opened up for about five minutes. But once the clouds cleared, the sky did seem cleaner, not as brown, and the humidity of the morning was gone.

With nothing much to do, and knowing that earlier in the day it looked like the Sawmill Group was in a Tardy mode, decided to head out early. To either watch Sawmill or wait for a possible Penta.

When I got there, things didn't look promising. It appeared that Sawmill had been overflowing earlier, and was now sitting just below overflow with tiny bubbles reaching the surface. Spasmodic looked like it had been erupting and overflowing for quite some time, and Thumping Hole and friends didn't seem all that full either. Then we got one of those Oval high fills with pulsations and ripples. Not bad enough to abandon, but not encouraging, either.

After about an hour, I decided it was time to concentrate on Grand and Turban since it was over 5-1/2 hours since the previous eruption. Was a bit surprised, then, to see the Penta steam cloud form, and for an announcement of the start. So it was back to splitting my time and attention between Penta and Turban again down by Rift and Belgian Pool.

After Penta had been erupting for about 25 minutes it was time for another Turban. Once it started, I looked back toward Penta, and noticed Churn starting to boil up. It had been overflowing, but I didn't really expect it. So I moved in that direction, and managed to get some photos and video of the eruption, which seemed long at about 1m20s. As it was, I missed the Turban duration, which might have been useful info considering later events.

So after the Churn eruption, I was trying to split my time between waiting for a possible second Churn eruption, and watching for the next Turban. So I was a bit surprised that when I turned at around the 17 minute mark to see Turban starting. The previous intervals had given no indication that a short interval like that was in the works. In any case, almost immediately Grand began to boil up. The sky made a nice contrast to the water column, as the photo shows. The second burst lasted for almost 2-1/2 minutes, and despite this Vent & Turban continued to play strongly.

At that point, another storm was heading in, and I decided that not getting wet was more important than seeing the end of Penta's eruption. So I headed in and caught an eruption of Aurum from the bike trail, and just missed seeing the first Plume eruption of the month. Also got back just in time to miss the downpour.

When I got here, I was afraid that the short Grand intervals would mean a lack of sleep, but it didn't turn out that way. When Grand has had these short intervals in the past, the interval range was still large, with 6-1/2 hour intervals intermixed with 10 to 11 hour intervals. This meant that a lot of nights, the wait could be several hours. This year, however, the waits have consistently been about an hour or less. Sometimes I'm not even out there for a full Turban interval. It's just an hour or so break in the middle of the night. So, while I haven't gotten long periods of sleep, I don't feel like I'm missing out on it. It's the long waits that get to be grinding, and that's not been the case this year.

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Observations for 09 August 2012

After yesterday's adventure, I was none too thrilled to see Rift in eruption as I was tying down my bike at Castle. Got closer, and found that West Triplet had ended a while ago, so at least Rift might quit soon. The moon was providing some light, but filtered through a thin hazy layer that didn't seem brown enough for the smoke. Because of that layer, and because it was warm earlier, I didn't need all the layers I'd brought out with me.

As it was, turned out Rift was in eruption the whole time i was out there. Just that Grand didn't have the expected delay, although it tried. It took nearly two minutes from the start of Turban before Grand kicked in for another one burst eruption.

On the ride back in, saw something new and different. As I was passing the Inn at 04:30, there were four people in white bathrobes walking along the railing next to the walkway. Were they really out to see Old Faithful erupt? Or to get a baptism by Holy Mother Gaia? I have no idea, and not sure I want to know.

Turns out that the Rift eruption that I saw ended over an hour later, so the duration was at least two and a quarter hours, and could have been as much as three. For the next eruption, we got a delay at around the 5h40m mark. Coupled with the long Rift duration I was expecting a several hour wait, but it turns out we only had to wait two Turbans. The one-burst eruption itself started with an explosive blue bubble, instead of the usual booping around for several seconds.

The next eruption was another unremarkable one burst, other than it constituted the seventh one-burst in a row. After five consecutive two-burst eruptions, I guess Grand feels a need to revert to the mean.

Coming in from the late afternoon/early evening one burst Grand eruption, I noticed something different. The little frying pan area that used to be drowned by Castle's runoff channel, that for the last two weeks had been noisy but otherwise ignorable, was now acting like a little mudpot. There was water in the runoff channel leading into the area, and a gray muddy cone had developed on one side.

The Beehive overlook doesn't get quite so packed when the Visitor Cathedral isn't trying to cram everyone who was in the building into that little area.

Grand erupted on the last Turban of the day, making sure it was another four-Grand day. This was the first clear, dark night of the trip, with the Milky Way easily visible and without the fire haziness of previous nights. It was also dead calm, so when the eruption started, the steam quickly obscured any chance of seeing anything. But that was okay, as the sounds more than made up for it. From the start of Turban with Grand quickly joining in, to the fall of the water away from the jets coming from Grand, to the roaring of Vent reaching maximum height. It was easy to fill in the sights based on the sounds.

It was also another one of those cases where the two bursts ended before the ten minute mark, but there wasn't a third burst. A bit disappointing, but at this point, just getting a second burst seems like a victory of sorts.

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Observations for 08 August 2012

Headed out to Grand at midnight. The moon was rising, and red from the lingering smoke. At Grand, due to the hillside, it always takes longer for the sun and moon to appear. The wait was so short that only the top of the water column was illuminated, and because of the backlighting, the water actually looked black, in contrast to the steam. Otherwise it was just another one burst eruption, ending the string of five consecutive two burst eruptions.

At dawn, it was Rift that greeted me. That resulted in a longer than usual interval, and was also a short Rift interval, which is a bad sign.

Another bad sign is when Grand just sits there for no apparent reason and just doesn't want to erupt. That was the case mid-day, which turned into mid-afternoon by the time it did erupt. In this case, there wasn't any sort of heavy overflow or delay or anything, just a series of uninspired pool fills before it finally couldn't hold off any longer. All this is beginning to look like there may be a mode shift in the group.

So just to put all that speculation to rest, or at least make it harder to support, the next interval was less than six hours again. So the obvious guru geyser gazer guess is that Grand is becoming bi-modal.

In any case the fourth eruption of the day was another one burst, this time exactly twelve minutes long.

The day started with a red moon, and ended with a warm, almost muggy overcast. In between, the sky was a dirty brownish-gray color that just made the heat of the day even less appealing.

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Observations for 07 August 2012

While it wasn't that cold, the fog was forming during the wait for the early Grand eruption. The short first burst gave promise of at least two bursts, but the two minute long second burst made sure that was all it promised.

Grand and Beehive managed to coordinate their eruptions for the late morning so that Beehive was still in eruption when Grand started. After a short first burst, and a reasonable second, the pool caught and started to refill. So far the duration of the eruption was only 9m45s. This was a slow refill, getting higher and higher for well over 100 seconds. During this time the activity of Vent & Turban increased in intensity, until Vent was going about 20 feet and Turban was full and sloshing as high as it ever get. Then suddenly the water just drained. And to make the insult complete, Vent & Turban quit almost immediately. So we didn't even get to hope for an after burst.

But the strangeness didn't end there. West Triplet started erupting, and there was nothing unusual about that. But it quit after a bit over six minutes. The pool level dropped slowly, and even seemed to stall a bit at the level I was seeing the other night when it was overflowing intermittently. Finally it receded to a level just in sight from the walkway. Waited a bit longer, perhaps for a delayed Rift start, but nothing much happened.

The evening eruption wait began with another West Triplet. If it had erupted since the short one earlier, I don't know. But where that was only a few minutes, this one lasted almost an hour. Of course, that meant also an eruption of Rift. If Rift does have an effect these days, it appears that it only delays Grand by about an hour, which is acceptable.

In any case we got the fifth consecutive two burst eruption, which is nice. This time, although the duration of the first two bursts was the same as earlier, the pool drained immediately while Vent & Turban continued. A short wait saw no afterplay, so I left again.

Castle also managed to coordinate its activity with Grand, in the morning it had a minor during Grand, while in the evening it preceded Grand by about an hour.

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Observations for 06 August 2012

The nighttime turned out to be a bit warmer than I expected, but having the full set meant my short wait for Grand was comfy. It was clear, but clouds were forming in the south and encroaching on the moon. Just as the first burst ended (at 9m30s), the moon went behind a cloud. I thought that that would be enough to get a second, but no such luck.

The next eruption of Grand was another one burst, and like so many these days, there wasn't much to distinguish it, other than Rift was well into an eruption and was still erupting as we left Grand. So time to head in and maybe get some more sleep and perform other overhead tasks.

F&M #1

F&M  #2

Fan & Mortar, during and after

While taking a nap, the cloudiness turned into a show, which I missed. Later I had nothing much to do, and since it looked like it was going to clear up, decided to kill that time down at Fan & Mortar before going to Grand.

So I get down there and the three main Fan vents are active, but nothing spectacular. About twenty minutes later, they are all off. After a few minutes, Angle starts blipping, and after ten minutes of that, I figured I could safely leave. I never did see anything out of Main or Bottom, and the runoff from Bottom was non-existent, so it hadn't done anything recently, either.

So sitting at Grand about 50 minutes later, and look down basin and see a huge steam cloud rising to the right of Giant. So much for "safely leave." So F&M went from what looked like some sort of garbage mode to full eruption in less than an hour. Something to keep in mind for the future.

After Grand, decided to go down and pay my respects/curse those sputs. From the areas that got wet, looks like the wind blew everything to the south, inundating the bridge. The boardwalk from Spiteful north was dry, and there was no evidence of any surges hitting the walkway or gravel on the fly.

Looks like the trail repair crew got to see the eruption, and there was a ranger car parked there too. Then over at Link's runoff, I see this guy who looks like he's standing in the runoff. I yelled, loud, twice, and he finally got back on the trail. But two of the NPS's finest never seemed to notice me or care. They got into the car and drove off.

So got back to the cabin as the sky was starting to get dark and angry, but to the north. So of course the call that Beehive's Indicator came over the radio. I only took an umbrella with me, but with the strong wind, didn't expect to need it for protection from Beehive. Did need it for protection from the sky, as it started to sprinkle just before the Beehive eruption. The wind did nasty things to the height of the eruption, but one of the advantages of being next to the cone is that height is not an important factor. The roar of the jet escaping the cone is much more impressive, and it looks the same for the first 50 feet or so no matter the wind.

As it was, the wind soon died down. As Beehive dropped below about 30 feet and the eruption came to an end.

Grand again erupted after dark, and before the moon was up. Other than the total abandonment of a couple of dozen people when they realized that the 21:00 on the prediction was a start of the window and not an absolute prediction, there wasn't much unusual.

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Observations for 05 August 2012

So I was a bit surprised to find Rift in eruption when I got out there just before midnight. West Triplet had just finished, it appeared, so this would have been a second Rift eruption with an interval of around five hours. (Or, a single eruption with a five hour duration.) In any case, Grand didn't even try to erupt until Rift had finished. Not only that, but it was not just cold, but there was a breeze, so even though it was a 7h14m interval, it felt much longer.

The next eruption made up for that. Another one Turban wait for another one burst eruption. Again the lighting was such that the top of the water jets at the start were all that were illuminated.

This eruption surprised me. As I walked up to the Sawmill Group on my way to Grand, I saw a nice Penta minor eruption from the Top vent. It even put some water down the runoff channel. But Thumping Hole across the walkway, and the other holes like Oval were all down, so I figured that was the extent of Penta's attempt to erupt. So pleasantly surprised when Penta was seen in full eruption, my first of the trip. Grand of course made sure that I couldn't stick around, but as soon as Grand was over, I headed back.

Just after I took this photo, Penta just quit. One moment erupting, I look at the phone to turn off the camera function, look up and nothing's happening.

For Beehive, I decided to do something I'd not done before, and go up to Observation Point and see it from there. Only took me 18 minutes. The water column is plenty tall, but if O.P. is 200 ft. up, then Beehive came nowhere near being 200 ft high.

The next two Grands of the day were fairly undistinguished, although the sunset one was nicely lit, and even had two bursts.

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Observations for 04 August 2012

After a cool day, I expected a clear night to be cold, and it was. The walkway got slippery by Sawmill, and it was ice by the time I got to Rift. But what I didn't expect was that West Triplet was in overflow.

For about 40 minutes I watched it by Maglight rising to overflow for about 4 to 5 minutes, then drop just enough to stop the overflow. This cycle lasted about 10 to 15 minutes each time. Percolator was quiet, and Grand had another short interval. Another overflow started with Grand, and this time it seemed there was a greater outflow of water. After about 4 minutes, it started thumping, even though the pool itself was quiet. Another minute, and West Triplet started erupting normally.

By moonlight Grand was nice, with the cold making for well defined steam clouds and a hint of moonbow, but it was just one burst.

After I'd just bicycled past the Cathedral on my way to the cabin, a coyote sing-a-long started. Sounded like two different groups yelping and whining and barking at each other, both somewhere in the trees beyond the cabins. It occurred to me as I pedaled that I was headed right toward them. But it all stopped by the time I reached the cabins.

In the morning came a report of Fountain in eruption that was more likely Morning in eruption. The heady fog caused my the cold made it hard to tell which was actually erupting, but the timing of known Fountain eruptions before and after are much more consistent with Morning that with several short Fountain intervals.

Late morning was clear and still cold. There was an occasional slight breeze, and when it was there, a jacket seemed required. Grand had another one of those long Turban delays. This time the overflow from Grand was so heavy that Grand actually "booped", boiled up to about a meter, twice before the overflow subsided. This is the first such activity I've seen in years, although it was quite common in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's too bad that more geyser gazers weren't around to see it, as there are more than a few who need to realize that they are calling Grand starts too early.

With the cool air and no breeze, Grand's two bursts were both quite tall and impressive. During the start, the steam cloud kept rising faster than the jets, casting shadows onto water column until a higher jet came along.

The later afternoon eruption was similarly picturesque, this time with a rainbow from Vent to Rift, due in part to the breeze blowing the spray to toward the southeast. Unfortunately, there wasn't a second burst to take advantage of the conditions.

Then the third bit of weirdness of the day occurred. As I was walking away I realized I was hearing a familiar noise-- the start of Rift. Except West Triplet had finished an eruption well before I arrived for my two Turban interval wait. I looked, and sure enough, there were the vents of Rift starting to show water. A double-check confirmed that West Triplet was dry and empty as a view from the boardwalk permits. Percolator was also quiet. A truly strange situation, as for at least the last twenty years, as far as I can remember, every eruption of Rift started after about a half-hour of eruption by West Triplet, and usually with Percolator at its noisiest.

I haven't paid much attention to Rift this summer, but was also surprised to see the crack in the rocks to the left of Rift proper spitting and erupting. If it has been active, I've always thought of it as something that comes later, not within moments of the start of Rift. As far as I could tell, the Sputnik area was as dead as it's been all trip.

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Observations for 03 August 2012

After midnight it was still slightly overcast. The moon was able to shine through an obvious layer of what was probably a smoky cloud, but that also did seem to have the side effect of keeping the night warm.

As it was, the wait for a nice two burst eruption was only one Turban interval. Despite the subdued lighting, it was also possible on occasion to see a slight moonbow in the steam.

In the morning, it cleared up, and was nicely calm for a sunrise Grand eruption. The shadows of the trees on the hillside were visible during much of the long one-burst eruption.

After that, it didn't warm up much, and the wind picked up so much that by the time Beehive erupted, a bit after 11:00, the water column was sent sideways across Geyser Hill towards Cascade. At least the direction was steady, and only the people on the corner by Plume had to evacuate due to the water.

Speaking of Plume-- one thing that hadn't been mentioned before, so it surprised me, was that Plume is not just dormant, but rumbling can be heard at depth. I've been around Plume dormancies before, but have never seen this sort of activity. No idea what it means,other than, along with activity by Little Squirt and Dome today, that Geyser Hill is messed up.

After the morning eruption, the average for the last twelve Grand intervals was 6h22m, with a range from 5h48m to 6h56m. That changed with the next interval, where Grand decided it was time to toss in an interval of over eight hours for no apparent reason, other than Rift did erupt. But Rift hasn't mattered much lately. We didn't have any delays, but the pool never looked good and Grand never seemed to want to try until the Turban eruption on which it finally started another one burst eruption. This one was short, only ten minutes, so a bit disappointing after the long wait.

In years past, having four Grand eruptions in one day was worthy of comment. The past few weeks it seems that is now the norm. In any case, the fourth Grand of the day came after dark, and just as the moon was becoming visible. At the start of the eruption, an orangish glow in the steam cloud was apparent. Then the tops of the highest jets were illuminated, more so each minute. A second burst would have been nicely spectacular, but there wasn't one. The interval on this eruption was just seconds short of six hours.

I haven't moved the truck in a week, since I got back from Shoshone. In that time, a spider found the time to build a web between the antenna and the neighboring cabin.

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Observations for 02 August 2012

With last evenings excitement, I decided to forego the early morning one-burst Grand eruption (and that's what it was) and spend the morning playing tour guide. Part of those duties were to see an eruption of Riverside, which was actually pretty nice. Hard to see in the photo, but the backlighting and the lack of wind made for a nice eruption.

Also got to check out the effects of last night's Fan & Mortar eruption. The boardwalk north of Spiteful was still wet, and you could see the lack of footprints and bike tire track when the water from the Main Vent landed. While I was there, I saw several large splashes from Main Vent along with splashing from Bottom Vent while all the other Fan vents were quiet. I resisted to urge to get on the radio to report a possible event.

Just missed an Oblong eruption, but did get to see a nice Beehive eruption from Castle area. Also learned that Plume has not been seen all morning, so something put it to sleep.

A bit later got to Grand just in time to see a heavy overflow, but fortunately, it resulted in just a two Turban eruption delay. Like last night, and the early morning eruption, this was a long eruption lasting well over 12 minutes. During the final minute, Turban seems to have finished erupting while Grand continued on with its Big Sawmill impression. Vent and Turban were definitely off when Grand quit.

During the last few minutes of that eruption, Castle woke up from its overnight minor, and we got a nice display of the transition from water to steam after leaving Grand.

In the late afternoon the Sawmill Group was full looking good for Penta. At one point, the bottom vents started bubbling and even looked like they'd erupt when the Top vent took over and gave another Penta minor eruption instead. The cycle was short and neither Penta nor Sawmill erupted. The Grand eruption was another two-burst.

More tour guide duties got me to Fountain for the evening. It was extremely windy, and with the long duration of the prior eruption, it looked like little chance of actually seeing Fountain, which did finally erupt almost an hour after we left.

Did get to see a couple of eruptions of Morning's Thief, which can be quite impressive, with massive surges that remind me of other erupting pools like Oblong or Artemisia, but more explosive.

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Observations for 01 August 2012

The clouds from the previous eruption must've stayed around for a while, as it was a warm night. There were still some visible off in the distance to the north, but nothing to interfere with the moonlight.

Another short wait for Grand. This time thought, it took 2-1/2 minutes from the start of Turban for Grand to finally decide to get going.

In the morning we had one of those times where everything happened at once. Grand had had a Turban delay when Beehive's Indicator was announced. So it looked like Beehive would be erupting first. I was down by Sawmill to catch that eruption, and also because Uncertain was steadily coming up to overflow and pushing out water. So within a matter of seconds. Uncertain started, then Beehive, then Grand. Makes note-taking a bit difficult.

And Grand punished the folks who abandoned it for Beehive by having two bursts. Following the second one, Turban quit almost immediately, but Vent refused to follow. For over a minute, it was erupting a thin jet to about a meter high. Finally it died down and joined Turban.

As part of my tour-guiding duties, when heard that Great Fountain was predicted for about an hour after the end of Grand, went down to see my eruption for the year. Was an your usual Adequate Fountain eruption, with some large bursts but nothing outstanding

Was taking a nap, or at least not doing anything when I was surprised by the radio call for the Indicator. The surprise was that I was expecting Beehive to be around midnight at the earliest. Ten and a half hour interval not unheard of, but still short. It was also the longest Indicator of my visit, at 25 minutes.

During all that, in comes the call that it looks like Fan & Mortar are finally having a real event. Since it was well over an hour before I'd expected to head out, I decided that I could just as easily kill time down there and maybe actually see it erupt. I was one of the first to arrive, since most folks were over on Geyser Hill, but within a half hour there were several dozen people out there, including a small group of tourists who had been out to see Riverside.

Which it did. It became apparent early on that this was not going to be like the pseudo-events of the past few days. We got a full Bottom vent eruption along with the coordinated huffing and splashing from Main vent. When the Fan vents came back on, they were all strong, and quickly built up to the point where High was erupting to at least 4 meters continuously, with Gold and Angle not a whole lot smaller. Finally, the eruption was initiated by Fan moments before Main kicked in.

The conditions, for a nighttime eruption, were perfect. The moon was at full, and high enough to illuminate the area. Once the initial playing of flashlights over the jets of water was over (and it took at least one person a while to get the message), it was possible to see moon bows in the jets coming from Main vent. Since there was no breeze, the only way to get wet was to go down into the target zone by Spiteful.

After that it was time for Grand, which was a bit anti-climatic. Again, the moon provided plenty of illumination. From the north end, the entire runoff apron was aglow from the reflections, and it was easy to see the surge in runoff head down from Grand's pool. The eruption itself started nicely, but was another of those that last almost 13 minutes. It was so long that Vent & Turban stopped within seconds of the end.