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Heat flux from a vapor-dominated hydrothermal field beneath Yellowstone Lake

May 14, 2021

We report results from 149 heat flux measurements made over n ∼2-year interval at sites in and around a vapor-dominated geothermal field located at water depths of ∼100–120 m in Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming. Measurements of both in situ temperature and thermal conductivity as a function of depth were made with a 1 m probe via a remotely operated vehicle, and are combined to compute the vertical conductive heat flux. Inside the ∼55.5 × 103 m2 bathymetric depression demarcating the vapor-dominated field, the median conductive flux is 13 W m−2, with a conductive output of 0.72 MW. Outside the thermal field, the median conductive flux is 3.5 W m−2. We observed 49 active vents inside the thermal field, with an estimated mass discharge rate of 56 kg s−1, a median exit-fluid temperature of 132°C, and a total heat output of 29 MW. We find evidence for relatively weak secondary convection with a total output of 0.09 MW in thermal area lake floor sediments. Our data indicate that vapor beneath the thermal field is trapped by a low-permeability cap at a temperature of ∼189°C and a depth of ∼15 m below the lake floor. The thermal output of the Deep Hole is among the highest of any vapor-dominated field in Yellowstone, due in part to the high boiling temperatures associated with the elevated lake floor pressures.

Publication Year 2021
Title Heat flux from a vapor-dominated hydrothermal field beneath Yellowstone Lake
DOI 10.1029/2020JB021098
Authors Julia E. Favorito, Robert N. Harris, Robert A. Sohn, Shaul Hurwitz, Karen Luttrell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research
Index ID 70220865
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center