Fluorescent Dissolved Organic Matter in Yellowstone National Park Hot Springs

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I present for the first time a broad-scale assessment of dissolved organic matter in the continental hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. The concentration of dissolved organic carbon in hot

I present for the first time a broad-scale assessment of dissolved organic matter in the continental hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. The concentration of dissolved organic carbon in hot springs is highly variable, but demonstrates distinct trends with the geochemical composition of springs. The dissolved organic carbon concentrations are lowest in the hottest, most deeply sourced hot springs. Mixing of hydrothermal fluids with surface waters or reaction with buried sedimentary organic matter is typically indicated by increased dissolved organic carbon concentrations. I assessed the bulk composition of organic matter through fluorescence analysis that demonstrated different fluorescent components associated with terrestrial organic matter, microbial organic matter, and several novel fluorescent signatures unique to hot springs. One novel fluorescence signature is observed exclusively in acidic hot springs, and it is likely an end product of thermally-altered sedimentary organic matter. This acid-spring component precipitates out of solution under neutral or alkaline conditions and characterization of the precipitate revealed evidence for a highly condensed aromatic structure. This acid-spring component serves as a reliable tracer of acidic, hot water that has cycled through the subsurface. Overall, dissolved organic carbon concentrations and fluorescent features correlate with the inorganic indicators traditionally used to infer spring fluid mixing in the subsurface. Further, the fluorescence information reveals subtle differences in mixing between fluid phases that are not distinguishable through classic inorganic indicator species. My work assessing dissolved organic carbon in the Yellowstone National Park hot springs reveals that the organic matter in hydrothermal systems is different from that found in surface waters, and that the concentration and composition of hot spring dissolved organic matter reflects the subsurface geochemical and hydrological environment.