You are here

Woods Hole Researchers Studying Hydrothermal Vents On The Floor Of Yellowstone Lake

Share

A multi-year research project aims to better understand how hydrothermal vents on the floor of Yellowstone Lake function and are affected by geologic changes/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Yellowstone Lake, on its surface, is an immense body of deep, cold water that could be fatal in a matter of minutes to anyone who fell into it. But deep down, on the lakebed, hundreds of hydrothermal vents are furnace-like, generating water temperatures of more than 300 degrees in some parts of the lake. Beyond the astonishing temperatures, though, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution hope their studies help them answer how "environmental processes and climate affect continental hydrothermal systems."

There is more, of course, expected to be teased out from the three field seasons the researchers are to spend on the lake. What microbial habitats might be clustered around these vents? How do earthquakes impact the hydrothermal vents, of which there are an estimated 250 on the lakebed. What triggers hydrothermal explosions?

"The project is sited in the northern half of Yellowstone Lake, which hosts one of three major thermal basins in Yellowstone National Park," the project's website notes. "While most of the thermal activity in Yellowstone discharges into pools, fumaroles, and geysers that can be observed on the ground surface, the system beneath the lake discharges through a series of vents and fissures onto the lake floor, where it is hidden from sight. This thermal system is particularly sensitive to perturbations, making it an ideal location for studying the cause-and-effect relationships between magmatic, tectonic, and environmental activity with hydrothermal circulation. The extreme sensitivity of the system to perturbations is evidenced by the fact that the northern part of Yellowstone Lake hosts the largest known hydrothermal explosion craters in the world, which are generated when the pore pressure in a system suddenly drops, causing catastrophic vapor explosions that can excavate large volumes of rock and fluid."

Along with measuring vent temperatures and studying water flows, the research also involves taking core samples from the lakebed to study sediments that might tell stories of the environment before and after hydrothermal explosions.

"Even though all of the sites are within Yellowstone Lake, each one is in a different geologic area, including a deep ‘graben’ (a ditch in between two faults), a large hydrothermal explosion crater, the deep, hydrothermally active hole east of Stevenson Island, and areas of landslide deposits. The cores from these different sites will give the team an unprecedented look at the post-glacial geological history of the lake region, including the processes by which large hydrothermal explosion craters were formed," Chris Linder, one of the researchers, wrote on the project's blog.

"Several cores were 40 feet in length (previous cores from the Lake maxed out at ~28 feet), and one of the cores may have penetrated into glacial flour, meaning it may provide a complete record back to the last glaciation. Many of the cores contained significant amounts of gas, probably carbon dioxide, especially the Stevenson Island core. The team is thrilled with the coring effort and eager to see what stories the cores will reveal."

The core samples are scheduled to be opened in January.

Researchers took core samplings from several locations on the bed of Yellowstone Lake/Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Comments

What's the potential for an eruption, in the near future???? And the impact on the western "United States"?????


1. Anytime

2. Devastating.

 

I recommend you move as far away from Yellowstone as possible, please.


Moving as far away from Yellowstone as possible wouldn't help. Were Yellowstone to erupt as it did 638,000 years ago, the ash would encircle the entire globe. A "nuclear winter" of at least five years would result. No crops would grow anywhere on the planet, which itself would be covered with a minimum of three feet of ash.

Memo to Al Gore. And you worry about global warming, Al? In that case, the planet has news for all of us. With or without the human race, it will survive another five billion years. Sure, you people should take good care of me, but don't think for a minute you're in control.


Moving as far away from Yellowstone as possible wouldn't help.

 

It would help me, as these doomsday-obsessed, probability-challenged people would still inhabit my electronic world but I'd be less likely to run into them in person. There are many ways the empire may fall in the next century or two, but having it due to the eruption of the supervolcano isn't likely to be one of them.


How many of you are aware that Yellowstone National Park was evacuated last summer because of fear the supevolcano was about to erupt?

Yup.  It actually happened in July.  Here's a website that contains the story -- a story that apparently the government succeeded in keeping hidden.

While you're at it, check out some of the other articles on here if you want to learn the TRUTH about our sneaky government.

http://unitedmediapublishing.com/yellowstone-evacuated-amid-fears-of-sup...

Alfred, are you absolutely sure the entire earth would be covered with three feet of ash.  The last time it happened, several feet did blanket what is today Nebraska and killed a bunch of titanotheres.  It's also true that about 1/8 inch of Yellowstone ash can be found in some sediments in New York.  But three feet worldwide is kind of a stretch. 

But then, again, if Yellowstone was evacuated last July and it was kept secret from us, who knows . . . . . ?


You are joking, right Lee?????


My b.s. meter is pegged. Lee cited a story from 2015. I found another, same quotes, from 2016, as well as one from 2014. And there doesn't appear to be a "Richard Dunn" working for the NPS.

And here's the park disputing it:

http://www.snopes.com/yellowstone-evacuation-volcano/


No, Esteemed Comrade, I'm not joking. 

United Media Publishing is considered to be Gospel by many conservative fans.  A few folks I know simply cannot be convinced that it is complete fantasy.

After all, if it's on the Internet and it supports your beliefs about anything, it HAS to be true, doesn't it?

What a shame that so many people are susceptible to this kind of thing.


Add comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide