Caldera chronicles: An outlier of Yellowstone's thermal areas: the travertine of Mammoth Hot Springs

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Narrow Gauge Spring, part of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, vents between two trees on top of the travertine deposits. Terraced pools form due to deposition of travertine from the fluids as they cool and degas carbon dioxide.

Pat Shanks, USGS

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week’s contribution is from Pat Shanks, research geologist emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Three main varieties of hot spring fluids are recognized in Yellowstone: alkaline-chloride, acid-sulfate and calcium-carbonate waters. Previous editions of Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles covered the stories behind alkaline-chloride features, like Old Faithful, and acid-sulfate systems, like that at Mud Volcano. Today, we focus on calcium-carbonate hot springs and examine possible sources for the travertine-depositing fluids, like those that are responsible for the amazing terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Studies have shown that calcium-carbonate-rich fluids at and near Mammoth Hot Springs:

• Are meteoric waters (rain or snow) that are heated by contact with hot rocks at depth to temperatures of about 100

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