Observations and Modeling of a Hydrothermal Plume in Yellowstone Lake

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©2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Acoustic Doppler current profiler and conductivity-temperature-depth data acquired in Yellowstone Lake reveal the presence of a buoyant plume above the “Deep Hole” hydrothermal system, located southeast of Stevenson Island. Distributed venting in the ~200 × 200-m hydrothermal field creates a plume with vertical velocities of ~10 cm/s in the mid-water column. Salinity profiles indicate that during the period of strong summer stratification the plume rises to a neutral buoyancy horizon at ~45-m depth, corresponding to a ~70-m rise height, where it generates an anomaly of ~5% (−0.0014 psu) relative to background lake water. We simulate the plume with a numerical model and find that a heat flux of 28 MW reproduces the salinity and vertical velocity observations, corresponding to a mass flux of 1.4 × 103 kg/s. When observational uncertainties are considered, the heat flux could range between 20 to 50 MW.

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Geophysical Research Letters

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