Broadband Seismic Observations of Lone Star Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Geysers are natural phenomena that episodically erupt water and steam. Geophysical observations at geysers are analyzed to shed light on subsurface multi-phase mass and heat exchange processes and geometries controlling geyser eruptions, which are still are not completely understood. Lone Star Geyser (LSG) in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA erupts every ~3 hours, with brief episodes (~5-10 min) of water and steam fountaining (preplays) leading up to the main eruption (~28 min), and the discharge evolves from a water-dominated phase to a steam-dominated phase as the main eruption proceeds in time. We describe observations from multiple seismometers deployed around LSG as part of a comprehensive geophysical survey conducted in April 2014. 3-component seismograms were continuously recorded at 250 samples per second by 6 Nanometrics Trillium 120 P/PA broadband seismometers (lower corner frequency at 120 seconds) and Taurus dataloggers at distances ~10 to 25 m from the geyser cone for a period of 3 days. We identify distinct episodes of hydrothermal tremor associated with preplay events and main eruptions. We find that the dominant tremor frequencies during main eruptions are consistently higher (> 10.0 Hz) than those during preplays (> 1.0 Hz) indicating slightly different source locations or processes controlling the two phenomena. Unlike seismic observations at the Old Faithful Geyser, we also observe subtle harmonic tremor and spectral gliding in the frequency range ~1.0-8.0 Hz towards the end of both main eruption and preplay tremor episodes. We interpret long-period pulses on horizontal components of the seismometers located close to the geyser and synchronous with preplays, as pseudo-tilts resulting from deformation of the sinter terrace. We also compare the evolution of hydrothermal tremor in time with synchronous changes in temperature, acoustic emission and discharge for interpretation of the possible tremor source processes.