From Source to the Photosynthetic Fringe: The Downstream Geochemistry of Yellowstone National Park's Hydrothermal System

Wiswell, Samuel
Hydrothermal features provide a unique and extreme environment that can act as a proxy for studying both past earth environments and similar environments of interest that exist throughout the universe today. Yellowstone National Park contains more than half of the world's hydrothermal springs; over 10,000 features in all. As waters flow out of hydrothermal features they cool, evaporate, and interact with the air. This results in significant changes in water chemistry as the outflowing waters move away from their source. Outflow samples were collected that represented Yellowstone's entire geochemical spectrum to further explore the chemical variations in the waters as they moved away from their effluent source. This project analyzed changes in the major and trace element chemistry of the water samples by implementing IC and ICP-OES analytical methods. Results indicate a number of significant trends in major and trace element concentrations. These trends have uncovered information regarding inorganic mineral deposition along with organic uptake of metals in outflow streams. These trends shed new light on the Yellowstone hydrothermal system's unique geobiochemistry along with geobiochemical implications in the greater context of both the Earth and other planetary bodies throughout our universe, including Mars, other rocky planets and moons.
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