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TitlePhysical and chemical properties of the Sulphur Mountain thermal springs, Banff National Park, and implications for endangered snails
AuthorGrasby, S E; Lepitski, D A W
SourceCanadian Journal of Earth Sciences 39, 9, 2002 p. 1349-1361, (Open Access)
Alt SeriesGeological Survey of Canada, Contribution Series 2002060
PublisherCanadian Science Publishing
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
NTS82O/03; 82O/04; 82O/05; 82O/06
AreaBanff National Park; Sulphur Mountain; Mount Rundle
Lat/Long WENS-115.6167 -115.4167 51.2167 51.1167
Subjectshydrogeology; thermal springs; spring water geochemistry; water analyses; water temperature; biogeochemistry; groundwater flow; precipitation; hydrogeochemistry; groundwater circulation; Sulphur Mountain Thrust; snails
Illustrationssketch maps
AbstractNine thermal springs, in three groups, occur along the flank of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park. The principal recharge zone is suggested to be above 2000 m elevation on Mount Rundle, circulation depths are estimated to be 3.2 ± 0.6 km, and discharge is focused along the Sulphur Mountain Thrust. Springs show constant temperature and total dissolved solids load throughout the winter, whereas both drop in association with spring snowmelt. The degree and timing of temperature drops are a function of elevation, with the highest springs showing the earliest and most significant temperature drop. The highest elevation springs also show the greatest seasonal variability in water chemistry. Unusual seasonal flow stoppages of these springs are related to extreme low precipitation years. The biogeochemistry of the thermal springs and population fluctuations of the endemic and endangered Banff springs snail (Physella johnsoni) are strongly related to seasonal variability in flow rates. Changes in redox conditions associated with an influx of shallow groundwater during spring snowmelt negatively impact the microbial community that forms a principal food supply for the snail.