Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Measurements of heat and mass flow from thermal areas in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, 1984-93

January 1, 1994

Rates of heat loss from eight steam-heated thermal areas and one conductively heated thermal area in Lassen Volcanic National Park have been determined from measurements made during the period 1984-93. Total heat discharge at the steam-heated areas is assumed proportional to the rate of steam upflow from underlying reservoirs. The dominant mode of heat loss differs among the areas studied; at Bumpass Hell and Boiling Springs Lake evaporation from water surfaces dominates, whereas at Devils Kitchen and Little Hot Springs Valley most of the heat is lost by advection in streams. Heat loss from furnaroles, which discharge at temperatures of 93 157°C depending on the area, accounts for less than 30 percent of the total heat loss for all but the smallest thermal areas. Estimates of total heat loss from the eight steam-heated areas range from about 30 megawatts at Bumpass Hell and Boiling Springs Lake to less than 2 megawatts at Terminal Geyser, Pilot Pinnacle and Lassen Peak, and total about 120 megawatts. The corresponding rate of steam upflow required to supply this total heat loss is approximately 40 kilograms per second, with about half providing heat input to the five thermal areas situated on the flanks of Lassen Peak and the remainder supplying heat to thermal areas situated to the southeast of Lassen Peak along or near Hot Springs Creek. For the most part, heat-loss measurements were made during late summer and fall when streamflows were relatively low. At each thermal area, rates of streamflow and advective heat loss are greatest in the spring and early summer, reflecting depletion of stored heat by infiltrating cold water. Such seasonal variations, along with variations due to errors in our heat-loss determinations, result in uncertainties of approximately ± 20 percent in our estimates of total heat loss and steam upflow at all the Park's thermal areas.

Publication Year 1994
Title Measurements of heat and mass flow from thermal areas in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, 1984-93
DOI 10.3133/wri944180A
Authors Michael L. Sorey, Elizabeth M. Colvard
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 94-4180
Index ID wri944180A
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Hazards Program