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Observations for 25 July 2013

I went out to Grand in the pre-dawn hours with the hope of seeing it in the dark, but prepared for a wait until after dawn. The first Turban eruption had all the characteristics of a Vent delay, but in the dark I couldn't tell. One factor making that more likely is that Grand did erupt on the second Turban afterwards. It was also the sixth one burst eruption in a row.

With nothing much to do in the mornings, I came out earlier than necessary to see what Turban might be doing. Turns out it was a good decision. The first partial Turban interval I saw had to have been about 22 minutes, and then we got a 34 minute delay. The pool rose up nicely at around 24 minutes, then sat there for almost 8 minutes before heading back down. The five Turban delay afterwards was a bit more than I'd have liked to have seen, but at least we finally broke the string of one burst eruptions. This was one of those cases where Turban started and Grand went from looking decent to having waves.

As the first burst approached the 8 minute mark, I noticed that the wind had shifted just a bit, and realized that if we did get a second burst, we were going to get wet. And we got the burst, and we did. And it wasn't a quick letdown, but seemed to last for a while as the water droplets drifted our way instead of dousing the crowd down by Rift, like it did for the first burst.

There were reports that East Sentinel had had a couple of major eruptions during the day. So after Grand I decided to go look for myself. What I found didn't look much different than what I'd seen earlier. I was disappointed that there wasn't any evidence of catch basins that contained water that shouldn't be there, the way you can tell Fan & Mortar have been active the next day by the wet areas on Mortar. But I did see a nice surge that had water filling the crater while the surging reached about 6 feet and occasionally splashed over the near edge of the crater. The next two cycles were not as big.

We also started getting afternoon sprinkles today, after most of a week of dry. Fortunately, there wasn't any reason to be out and about at the times we got the short showers, so I didn't get wet.

The evening Grand was another one of those cases of going out with the hope of short interval, but prepared for long. Because of the time, this preparation meant carrying some jackets and even a flashlight. Off to the north we could hear the clouds rumbling as we waited. But it wasn't a short wait.

But we did get one of the best examples of a "boop" from Grand that's I've seen in years. The pool came up to completely full, where the ridges were completely gone, but there were not waves. And then just sat there for the better part of a minute. Then the little bubbling over the vent that Grand always has during into a boil about a foot high. And then nothing, for a good ten seconds. Finally we got another boil, and almost got a blue bubble from Grand as the eruption started explosively the way some Grand-initiated eruptions can do.

There are at least a couple of gazers who really like to announce geyser starts before the actual start who are someday going to get caught by a boop that becomes a delay, and have to retract their report. And it'll serve 'em right, as I've been commenting to people who do that sort of things to watch out. (Beehive in another popular target.)

And we got another one burst. Since my server is down (or gone), I can't get at all the numbers I need, but the average is definitely not getting better. At one point last week we were at 70% one burst eruptions, but thanks to a series of two burst eruptions, that actually got down to about 55%. It's now probably back in the 70% range. This means that most days there is only one Grand eruption with multiple bursts, and our 4 day/4 bursts Grand day yesterday isn't that unlikely. Enjoy the second bursts while you can.

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Observations for 24 July 2013

The night started with a longer than necessary wait for Grand by a fair number of people (for night, at least). At least West Triplet's eruption didn't lead into a Rift. The one burst was disappointing because otherwise the conditions were perfect-- it wasn't frigid and the moon was high and bright.

The Rift eruption was what greeted me a few hours later when I came out for the second Grand of the day. But it wasn't all bad. Rift ended shortly after I got out, and I only had to wait two more Turban eruptions. Again, Grand did not rise to the conditions, which were ideal early morning. Instead it gave us another very long eruption, this one 12m54s. So once again it couldn't quite get to 13 minutes.

The wait for the third Grand of the day was even shorter. With the increasing number of sub-seven hour interval, I decided that I definitely had to be in sight by the six hour mark. And again, Grand didn't put the conditions to good use, by having another one burst eruption. The conditions being the empty benches at midday due to the shortness of the interval.

But that did set Grand up for a nice sunset eruption. This time, the Fountain/Morning activity didn't coincide with the Grand window, so quite a few gazers were out the shortest interval of the day, and the fourth Grand eruption of the day. And it was another one burst eruption, also the fourth of the day. So ended a boring day.

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Observations for 23 July 2013

The full moon had a slight yellowish cast as I went out at midnight. Probably from fires in Montana, but it was still bright out. Got a West Triplet start during the first Turban interval I was there, and Rift followed on right on schedule. That's when things got fun.

I was listening for the end of a Turban eruption, which can be a bit tricky when you've got all the noisemakers active-- Percolator, West Triplet, Rift and even Sawmill off in the distance. So I was surprised to hear a roaring off to the north. It didn't sound like Oblong, and sure enough, there was a steam plume to the right of the Giant complex-- Fan & Mortar were finally erupting. So I made my one radio report of the trip, and even got a response from someone.

Watched (and listened) to the activity down there for a while, then watched the steam build up at Grand before and after the next Turban start. Finally got a beautiful moonlit eruption of Grand, whose only drawback was that it was a one burst that lasted over eleven minutes. There weren't any moonbows like the previous night's eruption because the moon was too high in the sky.

In the morning I was practically alone at Grand for an 08:03 eruption because the mass was out at Fountain waiting for, as it turned out, Fountain. A thin layer of ice had formed on the walkways and benches, making the former slippery and the latter wet after you sat down.

This was a two burst eruption nicely backlit by the morning sun after a short wait in which West Triplet also started.

In the afternoon the interesting activity wasn't at the Grand Group. Upon arriving, Oblong erupted. It was noted by several that the bursts as seen from Grand seemed impressively large, but otherwise it was a normal eruption. Then, forty minutes later, I looked up from the book I was reading and saw the steam there building, and then a surge of water. After a couple of decades, Oblong was having empty crater eruptions again. If I hadn't seen the earlier eruption, or known about it, I would not have thought this one was any different from any other Oblong. The height and duration and behavior, as far as I could tell, was no different from any other Oblong I've seen from there.

Then we got an eruption of Penta. When I'd gone out to Grand an hour earlier, the group looked good but not great with regards to Penta. So was a bit surprised as I thought the Sawmill Group would be draining by then. Others who had been watching said that the group drop had stalled out, and it appears that that gave Penta the time or the opportunity to build up the energy to erupt. The eruption itself lasted about an hour, which is a bit shorter than the others I've seen this year.

Grand itself decided that midday was a good time for a nearly nine hour interval, and to reward everyone who waited with a single burst eruption.

Later,while killing time in my cabin, I heard over the radio that Beehive was erupting.I walked over to in front of the Lodge to catch a few minutes of the activity. This was the second Beehive in as many days.

So in a less than 24 hours period, not quite coinciding with yesterday, there were four Grand eruptions, two Morning eruptions (one with Fountain), a Beehive eruption and a Fan & Mortar eruption. For this year, that's a great day, although for most people, the only thing they saw of it was the first Morning eruption.

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Observations for 22 July 2013

Out at Grand the moon was high and it seemed like the humidity was low and the temperature high (for night, that is). Ended up arriving in time for a close to 28 minute Turban delay. The first of this type delay I've seen this trip. But fortunately, it resulted in only a two interval delay. As the time of the second Turban approached, I could see the steam getting heavier over Grand's pool, and then finally, about ten seconds before the start, could hear the boiling over Grand's vent.

The wind direction was perfect for a moonlit, nighttime eruption, toward Rift, instead of the usual direction toward the northwest. This allowed me to see a full arc moon bow in the spray coming off of Vent, a thin ribbon with a reddish cast.

Saw my first Fountain/Morning dual, and I must say I was unimpressed. It may be rare activity, but rare doesn't imply better. The primary reason is that Fountain's activity gets in the way of seeing what Morning is doing. The fact that it was a morning eruption didn't help, as both Morning and Fountain were shrouded in steam from all their overflow channels. But comparing it to the one I saw earlier under similar conditions, I'm much rather have the solo so I can see Morning's huge bursts, and not have their sound drowned out by the crashing surf going on in Fountain.

Another drawback was that it seemed like for minutes at a time, Morning was doing a "Big Oblong". Large, but steady boiling without any of the bursting for which Morning is known.

In some ways, the activity reminded me of the Daisy/Splendid duals of 1997. In that year, a majority of the eruptions I witnessed were dual eruptions, and one outstanding feature of most of those what that when Daisy started, Splendid quit. This was in contrast to the 1980s activity when Splendid would not only continue, but sometimes become huge and last longer than normal. So in 1997, it got to the point where I didn't want Daisy to erupt. (There were a few eruptions of the 1980s variety that year. Fortunately I managed to capture one in June on video.)

Finally, the ambiance of the area is perhaps the worst possible for viewing any geyser in the Park, and in that I include the ring around Old Faithful. You have a constant stream of people who have no idea what they are seeing, and don't care a bit about it,other than "it's rare", or taking a picture of themselves in front of something erupting. And then they move on. The walkway is too narrow, and coming apart, and that makes it hard to move around to try to take in different views of Morning's activity. Which on a steamy morning, is important. Add into this that I can no longer tolerate the yammering that goes on when a large group of gazers is at this sort of activity. A few in particular won't shut up, and keep talking about other, irrelevant things, adding to the drowning out of the sound of the eruption.

A middle of the day Grand had a short enough interval that it pretty much insured that the evening eruption would appear in the daylight.

As it turned out, Grand pretty much erupted at the earliest opportunity, at just over six hours. The only different feature of this eruption was that at the 17 minute mark, Grand's pool was completely full, ridges fully covered, but there were no waves. It took the better part of a minute for the waves to finally appear. With the short interval, Grand at least set itself up for another moonlight eruption, as tonight is the full moon.

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Observations for 21 July 2013

The moon was up when I came out, and set an hour later, but Grand waited long enough so that I could see the top of the second burst illuminated by the rising sun.

A couple of hours later, North Goggles had its first known minor eruption of the year. Since so far I hadn't had a reason to visit Geyser Hill, I took this as an excuse to make the loop. As it turned out, I ended up seeing a couple of the following eruptions of the series. The activity continued well on into the afternoon, but for me it was time to go back to Grand.

I went out to Grand with the intention of eating some lunch. I didn't wait for a Turban, but started right away. I was well into my crackers and tuna salad and pickles when it became obvious that the pool was full and having nice waves. So Grand erupted with an interval just over six hours, as if it was trying to compensate for the earlier long interval.

The final Grand eruption of the day also did not quite follow the usual pattern. This time the eruption came before the sun set. With the slight wind, this gave us a beautiful set of rainbows. The eruptions started with one of Grand's unusual "blue bubble" starts, which it can sometime do when it initiates the eruption. Getting a second burst was a nice treat considering that we'd already had our multiple burst eruption of the day.

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Observations for 20 July 2013

Grand's average interval is close to eight hours, so it is in a pattern where it is erupting at the same time of day, every day. Unfortunately, the times of day seem to be the worst possible-- shortly before dawn, right after sunset, and the middle of the day. So there are no true nighttime eruptions, but the lighting is poor for two eruptions, and the benches crowded for the third.

At least the first two eruptions of the day continued the run of two-burst eruptions. And the midday eruption did have a Vent overflow delay to explain why it took so long.

The third eruption started right after sunset, so the water column was still visible. Around the 11m mark, Grand's activity slowed down like it was going to stop. Then, after about 20 seconds, it picked back up and Grand continued, finally ending at 12m59s. So we got a long single burst, but couldn't even make it to a full thirteen minutes. Then Vent and Turban quit almost immediately, instead of their usual vigorous play for a minute.

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Observations for 19 July 2013

I didn't expect to see the morning Grand in the dark, and I didn't. But I was disappointed that it only had one burst. The light was just hitting the ridge to the northwest, and it would have nicely illuminated the top of a second burst, if there had been one.

The last couple of days there have been reports of more activity at East Sentinel, including some large eruptions. So I decided to check the area out. There was definitely evidence of at least one large eruption, with dead grass as much as 10 meters from the vent. The areas upstream was also cleaned of any debris, which is typical when something erupts infrequently. While there, I saw the pool in the crater cycle in height by about a foot, and several of the holes upstream splashed water to about that same height. The area bears further watching.

The mid-day Grand actually had a shorter interval, and two bursts.

While waiting for Grand in the evening, saw another eruption of Bush Geyser,out on the flat to the northwest. This time I noticed a second small sput active just north of the larger activity. This was about a couple of inches high, and continued on for at least another hour before it became too dark to see out there. I might even have seen a third vent active out there, but not sure.

The evening Grand was like the previous two evenings, but this time Grand erupted on the Turban right after sunset.

This was also the first day all week where there were no announcements of the same Fan & Mortar event cycle during the day. Would be nice if this signals a shift down there.

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Observations for 18 July 2013

With Geyser Hill pretty much dead, and no "charismatic megafeature" active in the rest of the basin (Fan & Mortar are still dormant as far as I'm concerned), things are pretty dull. Today consisted of basically catching up on sleep and three Grand eruptions. None of them were distinguished.

It seems like every night I'm coming out at the same time of night, only to have to wait for a long interval. The exception this morning was that Grand erupted when it was still dark enough to not see much. It was also another one of those cases where the activity of Turban became vigorous about 30s into an eruption, with Grand finally starting over two minutes after Turban. It did have a long second burst, and took place at that point where it was light enough to start seeing details, but I still needed a light to write in the notebook.

The redeeming feature of the second eruption of the day was that the interval was relatively short, less than eight hours.

The final, evening eruption could've erupted at or just before sunset, but it waited long enough to fall outside of any window and almost be too dark to seen. Add in the total length of 9 minutes for a single burst, and it capped off the day.

Morning should be showing signs of life soon,so things may get interesting again.

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Observations for 17 July 2013

The raindrops started as I came out of the cabin at midnight. It was light until I got out to Grand and got all my raingear on. The I waited for two hours as the rain fell and Tuban intervals came and went.

The rains finally died odd, and it looked like I could actually see stars in the gaps in the clouds. So it was actually nice of Grand to wait as long as it did. When it finally erupted. It was also a nice surprise when the first burst ended at 7m15s.

The third burst ended at 9m42 s, and I was anticipating a fourth burst, which I haven't sen in years, but nothing happened. Then I could hear Turban stop and the force of Vent suddenly decreased. Another little variation on what Grand could do, and not an appreciated one.

When I came back out for the next Grand eruption, the pack was still damp. On the way out, did the usual stop to look at Tilt, and noticed that not only was it palpitating slightly, but was bubbling from both vents. A short wait,and the eruption started. I like to watch Tilt from the corner of the boardwalk, as it's the one place where you can look straight down and watch a geyser erupt. But for this eruption, I couldn't do that. The water and spray got that area wet. Not only that, but the height of Tilt seemed more than previous, as much as 12 to 15 feet.

For the evening Grand eruption, the prediction sign hadn't been changed since the earlier one. As a result, for the first our of the window, the benches were empty. The evening started out calm (and bug free) with storm clouds to the north and south. We never got any weather, other than at one point the wind suddenly picked up and then it stayed windy.

The eruption itself waited until after the sun disappeared behind clouds, in effect giving us an early sunset. Without the clouds, it would have been a nice, long one burst with lots of rainbows.

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Observations for 16 July 2013

The next Grand interval was a little bit longer,but still indicating a possible shortening. It was nice to go out at night and actually see an eruption in the dark. Getting a second burst was a nice bonus.

But before I went out, I was awakened by someone hitting their radio "call" button. It was about a half hour before the alarm was supposed to go off, so I was a bit annoyed. But then a couple of minutes later,that changed to gratitude. Kit Barger announced the time of the latest Fountain eruption, 21:52, and that the duration was 40 minutes. So far this season, an eruption that long has implied a chance of a Morning Geyser eruption. So as I went out to Grand, I was running the times trying to figure out when I needed to set the alarm and head out. No excuse to not go to the Lower Basin, as traffic would be minimal and parking easy.

So easy that I was the first there.So I set up my chair down on the boardwalk next to Fountain, got out the iPad and started to read. All time I waited,Jet never erupted, just huffed and rumbled. Finally we got a real eruption. A few minutes later, so did Morning.

This was my third attempt to see an eruption of Morning, and resulted in my first one since 1991. Behaved much as I remembered. It's not the size or the height that is impressive. I mentally placed an eruption of Grand out there, at a similar distance, and only once or twice did I see anything even approaching the start of a Grand burst. Anyone talking about height is missing the point of the activity. It's the power of the water being thrown in all directions, almost noiselessly. It was nice that it was dead calm, and well before the herds of people tromping through began, as it made it just a little easier to hear and appreciate the bursts.

The eruption of Morning ended just at the six hour mark for Grand, so I hurried back to the Upper Basin, and got out by the 6h30m mark. And then waited for three hours. Again, no delays, nothing to indicate why it was taking so long. We did get an eruption of West Triplet, but that didn't seem to push Grand any. The wait wasn't so bad, because while it had been clear and sunny for Morning, by now it was overcast and distinctly cool. The biggest annoyance was that I had planned on a quick Grand and then head in for breakfast. That'll teach me.

So the string so shorter intervals and two burst eruptions ended. The rest of the day consisted of another of longer Grand intervals and another one burst eruption.Otherwise I kept trying to make up for missed sleep, without much success.