2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM


HEASLER, Henry P.1, JAWOROWSKI, Cheryl1 and SUSONG, David D.2, (1)Yellowstone Center For Resources, Building 27, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, (2)U.S. Geological Survey, 2329 W. Orton Circle, Salt Lake City, UT 84119, henry_heasler@nps.gov

Yellowstone National Park was founded as the world's first national park in 1872 due to the area's spectacular display of hydrothermal features. Since the Park's beginning, scientists and visitors have attempted to capture the beauty and dynamic nature of Yellowstone's thermal features. Verbal descriptions and paintings were frequently used to artistically describe Yellowstone's thermal activity. Historic photographs provide a quantifiable baseline for scientific study of thermal features. In the 1920's and 1930's, scientific investigations documented temperature, flow, and basic chemistry. During the 1960's and 1970's, U.S. Geological Survey researchers began an intensive geologic mapping and research effort. In the 1980's, the U.S. Geological Survey began using chloride flux as a method for quantifying convective heat flux. The 20-year history of chloride flux data is the longest study of Yellowstone's thermal activity.

Yellowstone's current Geothermal Monitoring Program has matured from visual observations to a scientific monitoring program. Park Interpretative rangers still visually observe hydrothermal activity as a part of their daily activities. The scientific monitoring effort currently includes the acquisition of time-temperature data through the use of electronic data loggers, basic water quality data, acquisition of chloride flux data, a prototype geologic database for Norris Geyser Basin, and measurement of radiative heat flux using airborne, thermal infrared (TIR) imagery. The current effort of using calibrated TIR imagery focuses on gathering baseline thermal data for the protection of Yellowstone's unique hydrothermal resources as required by law.

During 2005, the U.S. Congress funded portions of a geothermal monitoring plan for the Park. Current funding focuses on remote sensing of active hydrothermal features at various scales. Both airborne and satellite imagery are necessary to document temporal and spatial changes in the radiative heat flux generated by the Yellowstone volcano. Future efforts include (1) increasing the spatial precision of the chloride flux technique, (2) monitoring selected groundwater wells to define the flow of shallow groundwater, (3) additional remote sensing and (4) continued development of Yellowstone's geothermal database.