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Eruptions at Lone Star Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, USA, part 1: energetics and eruption dynamics

June 21, 2013

Geysers provide a natural laboratory to study multiphase eruptive processes. We present results from a four–day experiment at Lone Star Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, USA. We simultaneously measured water discharge, acoustic emissions, infraredintensity, and visible and infrared video to quantify the energetics and dynamics of eruptions, occurring approximately every three hours. We define four phases in the eruption cycle: 1) a 28 ± 3 minute phase with liquid and steam fountaining, with maximum jet velocities of 16–28 m s− 1, steam mass fraction of less than ∼ 0.01. Intermittently choked flow and flow oscillations with periods increasing from 20 to 40 s are coincident with a decrease in jet velocity and an increase of steam fraction; 2) a 26 ± 8 minute post–eruption relaxation phase with no discharge from the vent, infrared (IR) and acoustic power oscillations gliding between 30 and 40 s; 3) a 59 ± 13 minute recharge period during which the geyser is quiescent and progressively refills, and 4) a 69 ± 14 minute pre–play period characterized by a series of 5–10 minute–long pulses of steam, small volumes of liquid water discharge and 50–70 s flow oscillations. The erupted waters ascend froma 160 − 170° C reservoir and the volume discharged during the entire eruptive cycle is 20.8 ± 4.1 m3. Assuming isentropic expansion, we calculate a heat output from the geyser of 1.4–1.5 MW, which is < 0.1% of the total heat output from Yellowstone Caldera.