Geothermal solute flux monitoring and the source and fate of solutes in the Snake River, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 



The combined geothermal discharge from over 10,000 features in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) can be can be estimated from the Cl flux in the Madison, Yellowstone, Falls, and Snake Rivers. Over the last 30 years, the Cl flux in YNP Rivers has been calculated using discharge measurements and Cl concentrations determined in discrete water samples and it has been determined that approximately 12% of the Cl flux exiting YNP is from the Snake River. The relationship between electrical conductivity and concentrations of Cl and other geothermal solutes was quantified at a monitoring site located downstream from the thermal inputs in the Snake River. Beginning in 2012, continuous (15 min) electrical conductivity measurements have been made at the monitoring site. Combining continuous electrical conductivity and discharge data, the Cl and other geothermal solute fluxes were determined. The 2013–2015 Cl fluxes (5.3–5.8 kt/yr) determined using electrical conductivity are comparable to historical data. In addition, synoptic water samples and discharge data were obtained from sites along the Snake River under low-flow conditions of September 2014. The synoptic water study extended 17 km upstream from the monitoring site. Surface inflows were sampled to identify sources and to quantify solute loading. The Lewis River was the primary source of Cl, Na, K, Cl, SiO2, Rb, and As loads (50–80%) in the Snake River. The largest source of SO4 was from the upper Snake River (50%). Most of the Ca and Mg (50–55%) originate from the Snake Hot Springs. Chloride, Ca, Mg, Na, K, SiO2, F, HCO3, SO4, B, Li, Rb, and As behave conservatively in the Snake River, and therefore correlate well with conductivity (R2 ≥ 0.97).

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geothermal solute flux monitoring and the source and fate of solutes in the Snake River, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Series title Applied Geochemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.08.006
Volume 73
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 15 p.
First page 142
Last page 156
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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