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Mount Rainier Hosts Three Hydrothermal Monitoring Sites

Sampling gas and taking temperature measurements from a fumarole at the summit of Mount Rainier, Washington. (Public domain.)

Rainier summit fumaroles

Fumarolic activity on the Mount Rainier summit is widespread and has been since it was first described in the late 19th century. The gases coming out of the fumaroles have been sampled and studied by many different scientists since the 1980's. More recently, continuous temperature monitoring occurred at three points from 2011 to 2013, after which the probes were removed. In general, the "cooler" sites showed less temperature variability than the "hotter" points. In the event of volcanic unrest, monitors could be deployed again, and the resulting data could be compared to the baseline of data collected from 2011 to 2013.

Paradise Warm Springs and Paradise Creek

Streamflow measurement and water sampling at Paradise Creek are part of the regular measurements taken during hydrothermal monitoring campaigns at Mount Rainier, Washington. (Credit: Newman, Alice. Public domain.)

Paradise Warm Springs and Creek are hydrothermal monitoring sites located on the flank of Mount Rainer. The sites were chosen because of their elevated chloride concentrations, which can indicate volcanic activity. In 2010 a continuous temperature-monitoring probe was installed at the warm springs and a pressure-temperature-conductivity monitor was installed at the creek to record hourly data. Both sites are visited yearly during the summer field season to download data, take water samples, and make water flow-rate measurements at the creek.

Nisqually River

The Nisqually River captures hydrothermal outflow from many of the springs in the Mount Rainier area including Paradise Warm Springs. A pressure-temperature-conductivity monitor was installed in the river to record hourly data from 2010-2012. Water samples are routinely collected during the summer field season and measurements are also collected from the USGS streamgage located at this site.