Hydrologic Connection Between Geysers and Adjacent Thermal Pools, Two Examples: El Tatio, Chile and Yellowstone, USA

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Carolina Munoz Saez1, Kristen Fauria1, Michael Manga1, Shaul Hurwitz2 and Atsuko Namiki3, (1)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)USGS California Water Science Center Menlo Park, Menlo Park, CA, United States, (3)University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Japan
Geyser eruption cycles can be influenced by adjacent and distant thermals sources, suggesting a hydraulic connection through permeable pathways. Diffusion of fluid pressure can be responsible for the communication between geysers. In this study we examine the processes linking two different geysers with adjacent thermal pools. The first was Vega Rinconada, located at El Tatio geyser field, Chile, where we measured temperature inside the conduit between the ground surface and a depth of seven meters, at one-meter intervals. The second was Lone Star Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, where we measured temperature of the overflow water at the base of the cone. Concurrently, we measured temperature and the water level in pools adjacent to both geysers. We found common elements in both geyser – pool systems: First, water temperature in both adjacent pools was below the boiling point and cooler than water in the geysers. Second, changes in pool water levels were correlated with eruptions of the geysers. During the quiescent period of the geysers, the water level increased in adjacent pools, while water level in the pools deceased during eruptions. Additionally, measurements inside of the conduit in Vega Rinconada Geyser showed that water temperature increased in the deepest part of the conduit during eruptions, while water temperature decreased in the shallow part of the geyser conduit (~1 to 2 m). These drops in temperature in the shallow conduit were coincident with the drop in water level in the adjacent pool. This suggests that after the initiation of an eruption, water may drain from the pool to the geyser. Furthermore, we observed a temperature drop of 3oC in the shallow conduit immediately preceding the end of an eruption. This suggests that flow from the pool to geyser contributes to eruption shut off. Our observations of geyser-pool systems indicate a hydrologic connection between the geysers and their adjacent pools. In the case of Vega Rinconada, cold water drains from the pool to geyser. The Vega Rinconada pool thereby not only records changes in geysers activity, but may also modulate the duration of eruptions.