Yellowstone's diverse hydrothermal activity stems from single source


  • Colin Schultz


Within Yellowstone National Park, the water emanating from the park's famous hot springs and geysers seems to belong to either one of two distinct types. In some areas, subterranean waters rich in chlorine and dissolved silicates burst from the ground to create the park's iconic geysers. In other areas, highly acidic mud pools form from chlorine-deprived waters rich with sulfate ions. In the 1950s, researchers proposed that these two distinct surface features actually stem from a single type of underground water. Across Yellowstone, geysers and mud pools are often separated by defined geographic boundaries, making a test of their interrelatedness difficult. In northwestern Wyoming, however, acid-rich and silica-rich waters coexist within a roughly 12-squarekilometer watershed that drains into nearby Heart Lake