Abstract

An extensive data set of the physical and chemical attributes of two modern hot springs in the Mammoth Hot Springs complex of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, U.S.A., yields a strong correlation between travertine depositional facies and the temperature, pH, and flux of the hot-spring water from which the travertine precipitated. Because advection dominates in these hot-spring drainage systems, we quantify variability between and within springs in order to construct a hydrologic model that defines the primary flow path in the context of key macroscopic travertine accumulation patterns. This model, based on 343 in situ triplicate measurements, provides the basis for the use of travertine facies models to quantitatively reconstruct hot-spring aqueous temperature, pH, and flux solely from precipitated travertine. As an example reconstruction, we deduce that previously described Pleistocene apron and channel facies travertine quarry deposits from central Italy precipitated from hot-spring waters with a pH of 6.86 ± 0.19 and a temperature of 65.4 ± 3.6°C.

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