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Airborne survey in Yellowstone national park

Uncovering Yellowstone’s Subsurface Mysteries

A study providing an unprecedented regional view of the earth’s crust beneath Yellowstone National Park has been carried out with a helicopter electromagnetic and magnetic (HEM) survey in 2016. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Wyoming, and Aarhus University in Denmark aimed to distinguish zones of cold fresh water, hot saline water, steam, clay and unaltered rock from one another to understand Yellowstone’s myriad hydrothermal systems.

Although the park’s iconic hydrothermal systems are well mapped at the surface, their subsurface groundwater flow systems were almost completely unknown. The HEM survey, operated by SkyTEM, provided the first subsurface view of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal systems, tracking the geophysical signatures of geysers, hot springs, mud pots, steam vents and hydrothermal explosion craters to depths in excess of 500 meters.

HGG has assisted in survey planning and has processed the data together with the US partners. At the moment we are linking the AEM results to existing geological and geochemical knowledge from the park, to understand this magnificent plumbing system better. Pretty exciting stuff!