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Mechanics of Old Faithful Geyser, Calistoga, CA

December 1, 2012

In order to probe the subsurface dynamics associated with geyser eruptions, we measured ground deformation at Old Faithful Geyser of Calistoga, CA. We present a physical model in which recharge during the period preceding an eruption is driven by pressure differences relative to the aquifer supplying the geyser. The model predicts that pressure and ground deformation are characterized by an exponential function of time, consistent with our observations. The geyser's conduit is connected to a reservoir at a depth of at least 42 m, and pressure changes in the reservoir can produce the observed ground deformations through either a poroelastic or elastic mechanical model.

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