Abstract

Hydrothermal quartz and fluorite crystals containing liquid-rich fluid inclusions (coexisting vapor-rich fluid inclusions were not observed) were found in drill cores from eight relatively shallow research holes drilled by the U.S. Geological Survey in and near major geyser basins of Yellowstone National Park. Homogenization temperatures (Th) for mostly secondary fluid inclusions show variations in temperature that have occurred at given depths since precipitation of the host minerals. Within major hydrothermal upflow zones, fluid- inclusion Th values all were found to be equal to or higher (commonly 20-50 °C and up to 155 °C higher) than present temperatures at the depths sampled. During periods when thick glacial ice covered the Yellowstone National Park region, pore-fluid pressures in the underlying rock were increased in proportion to the weight of the overlying column of ice. Accordingly, theoretical reference boiling-point curves that reflect the maximum temperature attainable in a hot-water geo- thermal system at a given depth were elevated, and temperatures within zones of major hydrothermal upflow (drill holes Y-2, Y-3, Y-6, Y-11, Y-13, and upper part of Y-5) increased. The thicknesses of ice required to elevate boiling-point curves sufficiently to account for the observed fluid-inclusion Th values are within the ranges estimated by glacial geologic studies. At the margins of major hydrothermal upflow zones (drill holes Y-4 and Y-9), fluid-inclusion Th values at given depths range from 57 °C lower to about the same as the current temperature measurements because of a previous decrease in the rate of discharge of warm water and/or an increase in the rate of recharge of cold water into the hydrothermal system.

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