Hot springs in Yellowstone grow by a process of 'drowning'

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London, March 17 : Scientists have built a computer model that suggests the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, US, grow by a process of drowning.

According to a report in New Scientist, John Veysey and Nigel Goldenfeld at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, built the computer model.

Geothermal ponds and terraces like those at Mammoth Hot Springs are built up when calcium carbonate-rich spring water depressurises and cools.

Carbon dioxide bubbles appear, which trigger the deposition of a mineral called travertine in layers that can grow as quickly as 5 millimetres per day.

Some suggest that heat-loving microbes in the water influence the shapes of the resulting terraced ponds, but Veysey and Goldenfeld said that a number of purely physical processes are responsible.

The pair suspected that one of the primary processes governing the sizes and shapes of the ponds was a process of drowning.

The lips on the edge of some terraces grow faster than others due to variable water flow. This means faster-growing ponds will drown the adjacent slower-growing ones.

Using such observations, the researchers built a computer model that predicted how the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs would grow.

Over two years, the prediction matched the appearance and distribution of pond shapes at the springs.

ANI

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