Source and fate of inorganic solutes in the Gibbon River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA: I. Low-flow discharge and major solute chemistry

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
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Abstract

The Gibbon River in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is an important natural resource and habitat for fisheries and wildlife. However, the Gibbon River differs from most other mountain rivers because its chemistry is affected by several geothermal sources including Norris Geyser Basin, Chocolate Pots, Gibbon Geyser Basin, Beryl Spring, and Terrace Spring. Norris Geyser Basin is one of the most dynamic geothermal areas in YNP, and the water discharging from Norris is much more acidic (pH 3) than other geothermal basins in the upper-Madison drainage (Gibbon and Firehole Rivers). Water samples and discharge data were obtained from the Gibbon River and its major tributaries near Norris Geyser Basin under the low-flow conditions of September 2006. Surface inflows from Norris Geyser Basin were sampled to identify point sources and to quantify solute loading to the Gibbon River. The source and fate of the major solutes (Ca, Mg, Na, K, SiO2, Cl, F, HCO3, SO4, NO3, and NH4) in the Gibbon River were determined in this study and these results may provide an important link in understanding the health of the ecosystem and the behavior of many trace solutes. Norris Geyser Basin is the primary source of Na, K, Cl, SO4, and N loads (35–58%) in the Gibbon River. The largest source of HCO3 and F is in the lower Gibbon River reach. Most of the Ca and Mg originate in the Gibbon River upstream from Norris Geyser Basin. All the major solutes behave conservatively except for NH4, which decreased substantially downstream from Gibbon Geyser Basin, and SiO2, small amounts of which precipitated on mixing of thermal drainage with the river. As much as 9–14% of the river discharge at the gage is from thermal flows during this period.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Source and fate of inorganic solutes in the Gibbon River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA: I. Low-flow discharge and major solute chemistry
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.03.014
Volume 193
Issue 34-4
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 14 p.
First page 189
Last page 202
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone National Park