Himalayan Geothermal Springs

#GS1 #Geography

Carbon outflux from Earth’s interior to the exosphere through volcanic eruptions, fault zones, and geothermal systems contribute to the global carbon cycle that affects the short and long term climate of the Earth.

  • Himalaya hosts about 600 geothermal springs having varied temperature and chemical conditions. Their role in regional and global climate, as well as the process of tectonic driven gas emission, needs to be considered while estimating emissions to the carbon cycle and thereby to global warming.
  • The Himalayan geothermal springs which cover about 10,000 square km in the Garhwal region of Himalaya show a significant discharge of  Carbon dioxide (CO2) rich water. The estimated carbon dioxide degassing (removal of dissolved gases from liquids, especially water or aqueous solutions) flux is nearly 7.2 ×106 mol/year to the atmosphere.
  • The study published in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research suggested that CO2 in these thermal springs are sourced from metamorphic decarbonation of carbonate rocks present deep in the Himalayan core along with magmatism and oxidation of graphite.
  • Most of the geothermal water is dominated by evaporation followed by weathering of silicate rocks. Isotopic analyses further point towards a meteoric source for geothermal water.

What is a geothermal spring?

  • Water that percolates into the porous rock is subjected to intense heat by the underlying hard rock which is in contact with hot magma in the mantle or the lower part of the crust.
  • Under the influence of intense heat, the water in the capillaries and narrow roots in the porous rock undergoes intense expansion and gets converted to steam resulting in high pressure.
  • When this steam or water at high pressure finds a path to the surface through narrow vents and weak zones, appears at the surface as geysers and hot water springs, also known as geothermal springs.
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