Hydrothermal activity in the southwest Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
By: , and 



In the past two decades, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service have studied hydrothermal activity across the Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field (YPVF) to improve the understanding of the magmatic-hydrothermal system and to provide a baseline for detecting future anomalous activity. In 2017 and 2018 we sampled water and gas over a large area in the southwest YPVF and used Landsat 8 thermal infrared data to estimate radiative heat flow. Most of the thermal activity in this region is in close proximity to the Yellowstone Caldera boundary. Springs and fumaroles discharge from a variety of lithologies including some of the youngest rhyolites in the YPVF. Gas compositions and helium isotope ratios of most samples resemble those in other parts of the YPVF. The waters have meteoric origins and tritium was detected in several samples. Thermal waters from some areas have compositions that plot along a line connecting thermal and non-thermal water endmember compositions. The thermal water endmember equilibrated at 160-170 °C, lower than waters in Yellowstone’s geyser basins. Heat discharged by springs and fumaroles originates from within the Yellowstone Caldera and is transported laterally by advection, mainly along the base of rhyolite flows that cover the inferred caldera boundaries.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrothermal activity in the southwest Yellowstone Plateau Volcanic Field
Series title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
DOI 10.1029/2019GC008848
Volume 21
Issue 7
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, Volcano Science Center, Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center
Description e2019GC008848, 26 p.
Country United States
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park
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