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Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center -- Arkansas
Preliminary Characterization of Thermal Waters East of Hot Springs National Park
Short Title: Hot Springs Thermal Study
Project Chief: Tim Kresse
Cooperators: Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department
Project Time Frame: 2007 - 2009
Established in 1832 to preserve 47 hot springs flowing from of Hot Springs Mountain, Hot Springs National Park (HSNP) is the oldest National Park in the country. Recent findings show that the geologic formations constituting the geothermal system of HSNP actively support geothermal activity well east of the boundaries of HSNP. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department plans to construct a four-lane highway bypass (approximately five miles in length) around the City of Hot Springs that would traverse the potential recharge area and involve blasting road cuts through a series of brittle novaculite ridges. In 2006, hot water was pumped from a local well located 5.5 miles east of the park and approximately one mile from the highway construction- the first known occurrence of geothermal waters outside the park in more than 175 years.
USGS hydrologist sampling at spring.
The existence of the geothermal system east of the park highlights the potential vulnerability of the thermal water resource of HSNP to changes resulting from human activities. Potential impacts could include pirating of thermal flow from the current flow path that feeds the hot springs of HSNP, changes in hot springs discharge, and changes in hot springs temperature due to changing contribution ratios for hot-water and cold-water components.
Current U.S. Geological Survey activities for addressing the causes of thermal water outside of the HSNP boundaries include:
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