Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus


Department or School/College

Department of Geosciences

Committee Chair

Nancy Hinman

Commitee Members

Solomon Harrar, William Woessner


FFT, Geothermal, Hot Springs, Time Series Analysis, Yellowstone National Park


University of Montana


Controls on Thermal Discharge in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Director: Nancy W. Hinman Significant fluctuations in discharge occur in hot springs in Yellowstone National Park on a seasonal to decadal scale (Ingebritsen et al., 2001) and an hourly scale (Vitale, 2002). The purpose of this study was to determine the interval of the fluctuations in discharge and to explain what causes those discharge patterns in three thermally influenced streams in Yellowstone National Park. By monitoring flow in these streams, whose primary source of input is thermal discharge, we were able to find several significant patterns of discharge fluctuations. Patterns were found by using two techniques of spectral analysis. The spectral analyses completed involved using the program “R” as well as Microsoft Excel, both of which use Fourier transforms. The Fourier transform is a linear operator that identifies frequencies in the original function. Stream flow data were collected using a FloDar open channel flow monitor. The flow meter collected data at15-minute intervals at White Creek and Rabbit Creek for a period of approximately two weeks each during the Fall. Flow data were also used from 15-minute data interval from a USGS gaging station at Tantalus Creek. Patterns of discharge fluctuation were found in each stream. By comparing spectral analysis results of flow data with spectral analysis of published tide data and barometric pressure data, connections were drawn between fluctuations in tidal and barometric-pressure patterns and flow patterns. Also, visual comparisons used to identify potential correspondence with earthquakes and precipitation events. At Tantalus Creek, patterns were affected only by barometric pressure changes. At White Creek, one pattern was attributed to barometric pressure fluctuations, and another pattern was found that could be associated with earth-tide forces. At Rabbit Creek, these patterns were absent. A pattern at 8.55 hours, which could not be attributed to barometric pressure or earth tide forces, was found at Rabbit and White Creeks. The 8.55 hour pattern in discharge found at both Rabbit and White Creeks may suggest a physical link between the sites, which are close (2.5 km). The time pattern could be a result of a shared hydrothermal aquifer, convectively heating and discharging at both streams. However, the common time pattern could also be the result of independent factors, which coincidentally caused a similar time pattern.



© Copyright 2007 Jacob Steven Mohrmann