A study of potential impacts of geothermal development in the Corwin Springs KGRA north of Yellowstone Park on thermal springs within the Park is being conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. Thermal waters in the KGRA and at Mammoth Hot Springs, located 13 km inside the Park boundary, are high in bicarbonate and sulfate and are actively depositing travertine. These similarities and the existence of numerous regional-scale structural and stratigraphic features that could provide conduits for fluid flow at depth indicate a possible cause for concern. The objectives of this study include delineations of any hydrologic connections between these thermal waters, the level of impact of geothermal development in the event of such connections, and mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate adverse impacts. The study involves a number of geochemical, geophysical, geologic, and hydrologic techniques, but does not include any test drilling. Preliminary results suggest that thermal waters at Bear Creek Springs may contain a component of water derived from Mammoth but that thermal waters at La Duke Hot Spring do not. The total rate of thermal water that discharges in the area proposed for geothermal development (near La Duke) has been determined; restricting the net production of thermal water to rates less than this total could provide a satisfactory margin of safety for development.
Additional publication details
Geothermal systems within the Mammoth Corridor in Yellowstone National Park and the adjacent Corwin Springs KGRA