A Prototype Hydrothermal Monitoring System, Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Abstract


  • Hydrothermal explosions are a prominent geologic hazard in Yellowstone National Park and are of consideration for park infrastructure and visitor safety. It is estimated that small rock-hurling phreatic explosions occur somewhere in the park almost every year and larger basin-wide events on the order of several hundred years. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (U.S. Geological Survey, University of Utah, and the National Park Service) has deployed a prototype network of GPS and seismic stations in Norris Geyser Basin. The monitoring system consists of five GPS stations and one broadband seismograph that were installed and operated for a year (October 2006 through September 2007) including during Yellowstone's harsh winter. The five GPS stations operated remarkably well over the survey period with at least 3 stations operating 98% of the time. The general southwest horizontal motion and subsidence of the 5 GPS stations are consistent with observations from nearby permanent GPS stations and InSAR. However, local transient signals of uplift and subsidence up to 6 cm are observed. Various long-period signals are observed in the seismic data, ranging from 2 to 100 seconds, which may be indicative of the transport of hydrothermal fluids within the basin. GPS and seismic data will be analyzed and compared to available temperature (air and water), rainfall, and barometric pressure data to try and isolate signals that can be attributed to the hydrothermal system. Ground deformation data can be used to determine the interdependence between regional deformation and hydrothermal activity. Seismic data can be used to help determine the interdependence between regional earthquakes and hydrothermal activity. These data will be valuable to YVO to help us better monitor Yellowstone's many hydrothermal systems to both gain a greater understanding of how they work as well as to be able to better understand the safety hazards involved to both park employees and visitors.


publication date

  • 2008

presented at event