Updates from West Thumb – Early May 2017
Last week I took a survey flight with Choice Aviation mainly to check on the thermal features at West Thumb – in particular, I wanted to see if the geyser that started to erupt last August was still active or if the energy had shifted away from it.
Below is a reference photo with the various thermal featured named (or with UTF = Unnamed Thermal Feature).
We looped around West Thumb a few times as I switched from binoculars to camera to let me fully capture and check on things. The UTF North of Thumb Geyser (UTF = Unnamed Thermal Feature) had increased in size considerably – and in fact, from the air, looks very much like a bird – a Phoenix with a long tail. I like that. Would love to see West Thumb’s water levels rise with increased energy to come back to the days when there were more geyser eruptions seen – a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Unfortunately, the name Phoenix Geyser has already been used for a back country thermal feature, so I’m personally still looking to refer to it as “Waterfall Geyser” if it remains for long. That’s the most common suggestion I’ve gotten on the boardwalks from visitors when it’s erupting and sending the water over to Thumb Geyser in a waterfall fashion.
The other exciting thing was the color – Ben Hoppe pointed this out on the Geyser Gazer Facebook Group. It’s blue now instead of gray and you can see down into a bit, so it’s more clear. That means it’s “cleared it’s throat” of rocks and dirt that clogged the vent. So, now we’ll get to see what it’s doing – if anything.
I also spoke with Ranger Jon Nicholson before the survey flight who told me one eruption toward the end of the winter season had it overflowing heavily enough to start flowing toward the parking lot, so there is decent hope that it’s still active.
After the survey flight, Jon sent photos from the boardwalk, and WOW – such a change from last fall. I was wondering how clearly it would show from the boardwalk. It seems we now have a decent view. Plus, he sent a couple of other photos of changes. Thank you!
So the South Entrance to Yellowstone opens this Friday, giving us all a chance to see the changes in person…and maybe wait there for a bit to see what might happen.
If you happen to visit West Thumb and catch an eruption of this new geyser, note the time and please report it to the rangers at Grant. I would also love hearing from you as well.
See you on the boardwalks!