Origin and quantification of diffuse CO2 and H2S emissions at Crater Hills, Yellowstone National Park

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


We characterized volatile emissions based upon diffuse soil degassing measurements and fumarolic gas chemistry at Crater Hills, a thermally-altered area adjoining the Sour Creek resurgent dome that is located within the Yellowstone Caldera. The objective of this study was to investigate the source and flux of CO2 and H2S gases to improve our understanding of both the total emissions and origin of the spatial distribution. The total emission of CO2 estimated using the sequential Gaussian simulation method (sGs) was 66 to 109 t day−1 with 95% confidence, which is an underestimation due to the: (1) inability to measure a high flux area on a steep slope, and (2) absence of measurements from fumarole and hot pool emissions. Based on gas chemistry data obtained for a fumarole at Crater Hills in 2007, the proportion of CO2 calculated to be derived from magma would be at least 38%, but could be as high as 50%. The spatial distribution of prominent geothermal features with the highest gas flux are broadly consistent with the regional fault pattern and, therefore, likely reflect the pattern of blind faults and/or fractures covered by overlying alluvium. The estimated emission of H2S was 0.39 t day−1, based on the linear correlation between H2S and CO2. The heat output was also estimated to be ~35 MW with an average heat flux of ~100 W m−2 based upon CO2-H2O-heat relations.

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research