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Determination of Flow Pathways 
  at Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park Through an Integrated Study 
  of Local Seismicity, Deformation, and Hydrothermal Processes: Brita R. Graham Walle
Project Title: Determination of Flow Pathways at Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park Through an Integrated Study of Local Seismicity, Deformation, and Hydrothermal Processes
Mendenhall Fellow: Brita R. Graham Wall
Duty Station: Menlo Park, CA
Start Date: December 1, 2004
Education: Ph.D. Stanford University (2004).
Research Advisors: Bernard Chouet, (650) 329-4796, chouet@usgs.gov; Jacob B. Lowenstern, (650) 329-5238, jlwnstrn@usgs.gov; Robert B. Smith (University of Utah), (801) 581-7129, rbsmith@mines.utah.edu

Project Description: The USGS, the University of Utah, and Yellowstone National Park work together as the Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory (YVO), and in response to increased hazardous activity at Norris Geyser Basin in the summer of 2003, YVO scientists deployed instruments to temporarily monitor the site (Figure 1, inset). The monitoring instruments included seven broadband seismometers to record vibrations associated with water and gas movement in underground cracks, five GPS instruments to record vertical and horizontal ground movement associated with subsurface fluid and gas activity, and thermal dataloggers installed in geyser outlet channels and streams that recorded temperature and provide a proxy for the volume of thermal fluid discharged from any given region.  

Map of Yellowstone showing calderas I, II, and III, with fracture and fault zones, surrounding mountain ranges, and earthquake epicenters.   Figure 1. Map of Yellowstone showing calderas I, II, and III, with fracture and fault zones, surrounding mountain ranges, and earthquake epicenters. Structural complexity in the region surrounding Norris includes the Norris-Mammoth Corridor, a region of faults, volcanic vents, and thermal activity that strikes north from the caldera rim to Mammoth Hot Springs, and an east-west zone of seismicity trending from Hebgen Lake east towards Norris (figure from White et al. 1988). Inset map shows locations of broadband seismometers and GPS receivers deployed by YVO in August 2003 (figure from http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/2003 norris.html).

Rapid changes in discharge of water and steam at Norris resulted in increased steam discharge, the creation of new thermal features and the consequent closure of trails to protect public safety. This project will investigate the cause of these changes through a more complete knowledge of the spatial distribution of subsurface fractures and fluid conduits. The goal is to model the dynamic interplay between seismicity, deformation, and fluid flow that cause transients in heat and mass flux at Norris Geyser Basin. Extensive research has been done on geochemical properties of the hydrothermal system; however the conduit system has not yet been determined. Data collected from geodetic instruments have the potential to image these flow pathways. Processing the data collected from broadband seismometers, GPS stations, and thermal dataloggers over a two month period at Norris Geyser Basin, in concert with a field based assessment of flow conduit type and their connectivity will provide the foundation for analyzing and modeling these data to determine their spatial and temporal interplay. The work will focus on synthesis of data collected to date, including geophysical, structural, and thermal data, assembly of this information into a user friendly database, and the production of a 3-D model of the subsurface conduit system.

Reference

White, D. E., R. A. Hutchinson, and T. E. C. Keith, 1988, The Geology and Remarkable Thermal Activity of Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, Report: P 1456, 84 p.


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Last modified: 16:08:33 Thu 13 Dec 2012