Volatile emissions and gas geochemistry of Hot Spring Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



We characterize and quantify volatile emissions at Hot Spring Basin (HSB), a large acid-sulfate region that lies just outside the northeastern edge of the 640 ka Yellowstone Caldera. Relative to other thermal areas in Yellowstone, HSB gases are rich in He and H2, and mildly enriched in CH4 and H2S. Gas compositions are consistent with boiling directly off a deep geothermal liquid at depth as it migrates toward the surface. This fluid, and the gases evolved from it, carries geochemical signatures of magmatic volatiles and water-rock reactions with multiple crustal sources, including limestones or quartz-rich sediments with low K/U (or 40*Ar/4*He). Variations in gas chemistry across the region reflect reservoir heterogeneity and variable degrees of boiling. Gas-geothermometer temperatures approach 300 C and suggest that the reservoir feeding HSB is one of the hottest at Yellowstone. Diffuse CO2 flux in the western basin of HSB, as measured by accumulation-chamber methods, is similar in magnitude to other acid-sulfate areas of Yellowstone and is well correlated to shallow soil temperatures. The extrapolation of diffuse CO2 fluxes across all the thermal/altered area suggests that 410 ?? 140??t d- 1 CO2 are emitted at HSB (vent emissions not included). Diffuse fluxes of H2S were measured in Yellowstone for the first time and likely exceed 2.4 t d- 1 at HSB. Comparing estimates of the total estimated diffuse H2S emission to the amount of sulfur as SO42- in streams indicates ~ 50% of the original H2S in the gas emission is lost into shallow groundwater, precipitated as native sulfur, or vented through fumaroles. We estimate the heat output of HSB as ~ 140-370 MW using CO2 as a tracer for steam condensate, but not including the contribution from fumaroles and hydrothermal vents. Overall, the diffuse heat and volatile fluxes of HSB are as great as some active volcanoes, but they are a small fraction (1-3% for CO2, 2-8% for heat) of that estimated for the entire Yellowstone system.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Volatile emissions and gas geochemistry of Hot Spring Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.09.016
Volume 178
Issue 4
Year Published 2008
Language English
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 12 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
First page 751
Last page 762