Thermal – 01 I. Executive Summary

Report of the Sec. of the Interior under Sec. 7 of Public Law 100-443 on the Presence or Absence of Significant Thermal Features Within Crater Lake National Park, 1992

I. Executive Summary


Public Law 99-591, October 30, 1986, directed the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a final list of significant thermal features in twenty-two specified units of the National Park System, including Crater Lake National Park. On June 30, 1987, the Secretary transmitted to Congress a final report listing significant thermal features in thirteen units of the National Park System. A decision on whether to include Crater Lake National Park was deferred until completion of ongoing research. Sections 2 and 6 of the Geothermal Steam Act Amendments of 1988, P.L. 100-443, included Crater Lake National Park on a list of units within the National Park System which contained significant thermal features. Section 7 of the Act mandated a report to Congress “on the presence or absence of significant thermal features within Crater Lake National Park.” This report is in response to that requirement. The scientific research and this report do not address the possibility of a connection between the hydrothermal features of Crater Lake and the geothermal lease sites outside the boundary of the National Park.

Under an agreement between the National Park Service and Oregon State University at Corvallis, Drs. Robert W. Collier and Jack Dymond began intensive studies of the lake in 1987. By using a remotely operated vehicle in 1987 and a submersible, Deep-Rover, in 1988 and 1989, geological, geochemical and biological features in the deep lake were studied. Based on these studies, the researchers concluded:

“…there are inputs of hydrothermal fluids into the bottom of Crater Lake. The dissolved materials associated with these thermally and chemically enriched fluids, coupled with the overall hydrologic balance, control the observed chemical composition of the lake. Because the hydrothermal input dominates the flux of most dissolved chemicals into Crater Lake, the hydrothermal process is highly significant. Furthermore, the geothermal inputs have a direct effect on the density structure of the deep lake, and therefore can profoundly affect the rate of heat transport and the redistribution of dissolved salts and nutrients within the body of the lake.” (See Executive Summary, Appendix A.)

A peer review panel was formed in 1989 to review the summary of research for 1988 and proposed research for 1989. The original panel and two new members convened to review the draft final research report in January 1991. The panel was chaired by Dr. Charles R. Goldman, University of California at Davis, and included other distinguished scientists from appropriate fields. The peer review report includes some requests for additional research, but concludes that, “…the Panel has been convinced of the input of SHEF [Salinity- and Heat-Enriched Fluids] to the lake bottom and its significance for lake chemistry.” (See Section III, C, page 9 and Executive Summary, Appendix B.)

An independent review of the literature by the U.S. Geological Survey also concludes that, “… the research program at Crater Lake has demonstrated an inflow of thermal water that is important to lake dynamics.” (See Section III, B, page 8.)

Based on the scientific research, reviews of the research by peers and the Department’s application of the criteria in Public Law 100-443, Crater Lake National Park qualifies for listing as a National Park Service Unit with significant thermal features. (See Section IV.) The moratorium placed on geothermal leasing adjacent to Crater Lake National Park is lifted with the submission of this report to the Congress, and the Department will treat all lease applications according to the provisions of the Interagency Agreement (IA) for implementing the provisions of the Geothermal Steam Act Amendments of 1988. (See Section IV and Appendix C.) The Bureau of Land Management has suspended all existing leases in the Winema National Forest as of February 20, 1991, for a period of two years in order to develop appropriate operating requirements before proceeding with exploration activities. (See Appendix D.)

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