Surface water-groundwater interaction and chemistry in a mineral-armored hydrothermal outflow channel, Yellowstone National Park, USA

M. V. Vitale, P. Gardner, Nancy W. Hinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Small quantities of groundwater interact with hydrothermal surface water to drive in-stream geochemical processes in a silica-armored hot-spring outflow channel in Yellowstone National Park, USA. The objective of this study was to characterize the hydrology and geochemistry of this unique system in order to (1) learn more about the Yellowstone Plateau's subsurface water mixing between meteoric and hydrothermal waters and (2) learn more about the chemical and physical processes that lead to accumulation of streambed cements, i.e., streambed armor. A combination of hydrological, geochemical, mineralogical, microscopic, and petrographic techniques were used to identify groundwater and surface-water exchange. Interaction could be identified in winter because of differences in surface water and groundwater composition but interaction at other times of the year cannot be ruled out. Dissolved constituents originating from groundwater (e.g., Fe(II) and Mg) were traced downstream until oxidation and/or subsequent precipitation with silica removed them, particularly where high affinity substrates like cyanobacterial surfaces were present. Because the stream lies in a relatively flat drainage basin and is fed mainly by a seasonally relatively stable hot spring, this system allowed study of the chemical processes along a stream without the obscuring effects of sedimentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1393
Number of pages13
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Groundwater/surface-water relations
  • Hot springs
  • Hydrochemistry
  • USA

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