At the request of and in cooperation with the Geology Program at Yellowstone National Park, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a hydrologic investigation of the Sylvan Pass area in June 2005 to determine the relation between surface water and ground-water flow to Mammoth Crystal Springs. Results of a dye-tracing investigation indicate that streamflow lost into talus deposits on Sylvan Pass enters the ground-water system and moves to the southeast to discharge at Mammoth Crystal Springs. Ground-water travel times to the springs from a distance of 1.45 miles and a vertical relief of 500 feet were less than 1 day, indicating apparent rates of movement of at least 8,000 feet per day, values that are similar to those in karst aquifers. Peak dye concentrations were reached about 2 days after dye injection, and transit time of most of the dye mass through the system was about 3 weeks. High permeability and rapid travel times within this aquifer also are indicated by the large variation in springflow in response to snowmelt runoff and precipitation, and by the high concentration of suspended sediment (turbidity) in the water discharging into the spring-fed lake.
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USGS Numbered Series
Use of dye tracing to determine ground-water movement to Mammoth Crystal Springs, Sylvan Pass area, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming