Yellowstone geyser report for August: Plume takes a break, Grand speeds up

Visitors on Geyser Hill near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park watch an eruption of Lion Geyser. (Janet White/Geyser Watch - click to enlarge)

Visitors on Geyser Hill near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park watch an eruption of Lion Geyser. (Janet White/Geyser Watch - click to enlarge)

By Janet White

The geysers and other thermal features of Yellowstone National Park make up a vast, complex and dynamic collection of constantly changing natural wonders. A wide range of amateur hobbyists and professional geologists and hydrologists regularly track the activities and changes in Yellowstone’s thermal features and post their findings at various sites online. Here’s a look at what has been going on in August:

Plume Geyser on Geyser Hill behind Old Faithful has been a regular performer for quite a few years. But it took a nap in early August, apparently going dormant Aug. 1-9. without a known eruption. The reactivation was caught on a live streaming webcamand it seemed a much longer eruption, with bursts spread out over many minutes. Plume is found just over the “left shoulder” of Old Faithful Geyser on the streaming webcam.

Lemon Spring no longer just gently overflows, as it did in this May 2010 file photo. (Janet White/Geyser Watch - click to enlarge)

Plume has taken breaks like this many times before, some as long as a month. From past records, it often would recover well and soon be back to erupting about every hour, give or take a few minutes. This time, though, it seems to be having a harder time finding its rhythm. And instead of being a quiet hole between eruptions, reports say it “grumbles” at depth most all the time.

This is one of the geysers that has a data logger on it that records eruptions by measuring the temperature recorded in the runoff channel. When that information gets downloaded and shared, we should gain more insight into exactly what Plume Geyser did or didn’t do, as well as its current behavior.

Lion Geyser, also on Geyser Hill in the Upper Geyser Basin, seemed to be out of sorts the last few days in August by having quite a few minor eruptions that only last for a minute or less. While nobody knows for certain what this might mean (if it even means anything), the live streaming webcam has shown some people keeping an eye on North Goggles Geyser for possible activity.

Grand Geyser, a bit further down-basin in the Upper Geyser Basin, seems to be erupting more frequently than its recent typical interval of about every eight hours. It started to show shorter intervals between eruptions on Aug. 30. Some were less than 6 hours. Since then it has erupted multiple times at intervals of less than six hours. This gives viewers a better chance with a shorter wait to catch Grand Geyser in action, much to the delight of many.  You can check online for the current intervals between eruptions at Geyser Times.

Black Diamond Pool in Biscuit Basin had an eruption reported at nearly 50 feet at 4:42 PM on the Aug. 23. A 15-foot eruptions was reported Sept. 4 at around 10:15 a.m. These brief but powerful eruptions — only seconds long — happen before many visitors can snap a photo, so if you’re in Biscuit Basin, keep your camera at the ready. Black Diamond is the ‘middle’ pool. First you’ll see Black Opal Pool, then Black Diamond, and finally Wall Pool that has the ‘wall’ ring around the vent. When Black Diamond erupts, it generally tosses out a huge amount of rock and debris.

The mobile webcam, operated by the U.S. Geological Survey Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is now pointed at Biscuit Basin and many are wondering if they happened to catch this eruption. The public sees only one photo an hour, but many more are taken for the research they do.

Lemon Spring, In the Lower Geyser Basin, has seen some changes too. Karen Low, a Xanterra Parks & Resorts tour guide, reports that Lemon Spring is boiling regularly and water levels vary, rising and falling markedly. Lemon Spring, one of the first hot springs on your left as you drive in on Firehole Lake Drive, has for years just been a gently overflowing spring with little variation in flow. If you’re in Yellowstone in September, know that this behavior is vastly different from what people normally see from this hot spring.

Janet White is the creator of and appreciates any reports on unusual or interesting activities by Yellowstone Park thermal features.

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