Random Thoughts: Dawn today at Old Faithful

Old Faithful erupting at dawn June 16, 2012

Webcam view of Old Faithful erupting at dawn June 16, 2012.

I took a screen grab of Old Faithful’s eruption this morning from this webcam, which requires Flash but is live and maintained, apparently, 24/7.

Click to enlarge the image and you’ll see that the seats are empty. Last night, there were a lot of people around 8 p.m. While everybody was waiting for OF to go off, one of the other geysers in the background spurted up an impressive plume; I’m not sure of its name. That was terrific.

There is a walkway with benches out there in the geyser field and some people were out there then – I wonder what that was like, to have one go off behind you (a safe distance away, of course) and then to see and hear Old Faithful’s huge fountain moments later, right in front of where you’re sitting.

It was also nice, last night, to watch the people frozen in wonder, just like I was. It may seem that we have built access to Old Faithful and accommodations nearby because it’s in a convenient location, but I suspect that this particular geyser could be in the most remote and inhospitable part of the park and we would somehow find a way to get to it.

Nature does not normally operate on a schedule. We are lucky that Old Faithful exists just now for us to admire and wonder over.

By the way, the only drawback to the webcam linked above is that they don’t give the schedule of estimated eruption times (which are generally accurate to within 10-15 minutes or so). You can find that at some of the other cams. Here is the National Park Service webcams page for Yellowstone, including Old Faithful, and links to much more
information as well.

Yellowstone Caldera

The USGS monitors Yellowstone closely through the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. They publish monthly summaries of the volcano’s status – it is currently normal and aviation code green – and add supplemental updates when needed.

Curious about Yellowstone “supervolcano”? Below is the 3-part You Tube talk – in plain English, not science speak – that YVO’s scientist-in-charge Jack Lowenstern gave on Yellowstone volcano a few years ago.

Is it going to erupt? Certainly, and maybe it will someday have another “supereruption,” but he explains that if we see anything there during our lifetime, it most likely will be similar to the volcano’s recent eruptions, which he describes. These recent eruptions of Yellowstone were on a much smaller, more “normal” scale, and any similar ones today will cause disruptions within the park, but in all likelihood won’t greatly affect the world outside park boundaries. At least not physically. I wonder, though, at the panic it will cause, since right now people associate Yellowstone solely with the early huge eruptions it did have in the distant past. People will probably really freak out at first.

Here is part 1 of Dr. Lowenstern’s talk:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Categories: Random thoughts

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