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Heat flow in vapor dominated areas of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field: implications for the thermal budget of the Yellowstone Caldera

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth

By:
, , , and
DOI: 10.1029/2012JB009463

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Abstract

Characterizing the vigor of magmatic activity in Yellowstone requires knowledge of the mechanisms and rates of heat transport between magma and the ground surface. We present results from a heat flow study in two vapor dominated, acid-sulfate thermal areas in the Yellowstone Caldera, the 0.11 km2 Obsidian Pool Thermal Area (OPTA) and the 0.25 km2 Solfatara Plateau Thermal Area (SPTA). Conductive heat flux through a low permeability layer capping large vapor reservoirs is calculated from soil temperature measurements at >600 locations and from laboratory measurements of soil properties. The conductive heat output is 3.6 ± 0.4 MW and 7.5 ± 0.4 MW from the OPTA and the SPTA, respectively. The advective heat output from soils is 1.3 ± 0.3 MW and 1.2 ± 0.3 MW from the OPTA and the SPTA, respectively and the heat output from thermal pools in the OPTA is 6.8 ± 1.4 MW. These estimates result in a total heat output of 11.8 ± 1.4 MW and 8.8 ± 0.4 MW from OPTA and SPTA, respectively. Focused zones of high heat flux in both thermal areas are roughly aligned with regional faults suggesting that faults in both areas serve as conduits for the rising acid vapor. Extrapolation of the average heat flux from the OPTA (103 ± 2 W·m−2) and SPTA (35 ± 3 W·m−2) to the ~35 km2 of vapor dominated areas in Yellowstone yields 3.6 and 1.2 GW, respectively, which is less than the total heat output transported by steam from the Yellowstone Caldera as estimated by the chloride inventory method (4.0 to 8.0 GW).

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Heat flow in vapor dominated areas of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field: implications for the thermal budget of the Yellowstone Caldera
Series title:
Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI:
10.1029/2012JB009463
Volume
117
Issue:
B10
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
AGU
Contributing office(s):
Branch of Regional Research-Western Region
Description:
B10207
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Country:
United States