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In other words, the changes we witnessed in the Firehole are also due to contributions from hydrothermal features! No wonder the river’s temperature increases—it flows through three major geyser basins! Just look at our data!

The thermal additions change more than just the river’s temperature. Water from hot springs and geysers spends hundreds of years working its way through underground plumbing systems, eroding and carrying along minerals and elements, such as bicarbonate, chloride, arsenate, and sodium from the rock through which it passes. When thermal water empties into the Firehole River, these minerals and elements are also dumped into the stream. From the Upper Geyser Basin alone, the Firehole receives an estimated 68 tons of bicarbonate and chloride every single day! Your data shows that the pH level of the water rises as the stream passes through the geyser basins—this is largely due to the added bicarbonate.

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Cast of characters - Maya Crowbes, Dr. A Beadle, Gray Fischer, Viola DeRama
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Q: Does the Firehole River become more or less acidic?

GLOSSARY: bicarbonate—a chemical that is a variety of carbonic acid salt; some bicarbonates are used as antacids

chloride—a compound containing chlorine

arsenate—a salt of arsenic acid

sodium—a soft, light, silver-white metallic element; when sodium is combined with chloride, the compound is known as salt