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Old Faithful Geyser Mapping Begins Tomorrow

A scientific crew utilizing Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) will begin Old Faithful Geyser mapping tomorrow in Yellowstone National Park, scanning shallow subsurface structures like the thickness of the hot spring deposits, fractures, vents and cavities.

The radar usage is described as being similar to a commonplace ultrasound. The work begins tomorrow in Yellowstone National Park and runs through April 13.

As described by the research team:

The purpose of this study is to learn more about Old Faithful Geyser and improve protection of the natural processes associated with the geyser. This GPR study is a direct result of the 2014 United States Geological Survey report “Hydrogeology of the Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and its Relevance to Natural Resources and Infrastructure” (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1058/). The panel responsible for this report specifically mentioned the use of GPR as a technique that should be investigated for imaging shallow stratigraphy and structure in the Old Faithful area….

The visualisations gained from this project will be used to create a diagram of the shallow subsurface in the Old Faithful mound and Split Cone areas for the general public. Images gathered during this study may be used in an upcoming National Geographic magazine article on Yellowstone National Park. Scientific, peer-review articles will be written discussing the technique and results including the location and depth of subsurface cavities and vents, their orientation, dimensions and connectivity, the depth of any local groundwater, and the vertical and lateral extent of any imaged shallow steam zones.

The actual study is a noninvasive technique, with An antenna is either carried in a cart, pushed on a wheeled unit or sledded over the ground surface to acquire the subsurface information. No drilling or excavation is needed to map out the vent structure. The preferred method is to sled the GPR unit across the ground, but if this is deemed to cause damage to the siliceous sinter around Old Faithful, a cart will be used.

We’re guessing this will stir up much chatter among the geyser gazers who monitor Old Faithful via Yellowstone National Park webcam: the crews, who will work off-boardwalk, will be wearing special protective clothing. Every member of the scientific team has extensive experience working in hydrothermal areas near geysers.

Here’s a list of the researchers:

Dr. Bridget Lynne, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Mr. Gary Smith, Geothermal Scientific Investigations Ltd, New Zealand
Mr. Isaac Smith, Geothermal Scientific Investigations Ltd, New Zealand
Dr. Duncan Foley, Pacific Lutheran University
Dr. Henry Heasler, Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service
Dr. Cheryl Jaworowski, Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service

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