THE CAVES & HOT SPRINGS OF THE TOOELE BASIN, UTAH

March 20, 2016

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN
Fish Spring National Wildlife Refuge is situated about 40 miles east of the Nevada border in Utah.  This remote basin reminded me a bit of Death Valley but nestled in the basin were a series of interesting geothermal features including springs that rose out of the ground like mini calderas with water temperature near the boiling point.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

Here is some interesting data from the Utah Geological Survey as they tested the water quality of the Springs.  There is some other information regarding microbes that is inconclusive, but I know for a fact that I could see orange algae like  mats and a few green algae mats that were floating at the surface.
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN


Id
2081
Mapno__cou
TO-109
County
TOOELE
Region_loc
Fish Springs
Source__we
Wilson Health Spr.
Location__
(C-10-14)33c
Quad__usgs
C
Township
10
Range
14
Section
33
Qtr_sectio
c
Idname__us
395423113254900
Type
Spring
Temp__°c
60.5
Class__hig
SPRING HIGH
Depth_of_w
Flow
Rate_units
Longitude_
113.4303
Latitude__
39.9064
Utm_eastin
292251
Utm_northi
4419986
Depth_to_w
Status
Date
12-Jul-67
Reference
USGS/NWIS; 2000
Ph
7.4
Conductivi
31200
Sodium__mg
7090.0
Potassium_
18.0
Calcium__m
740.0
Magnesium_
224.0
Aluminum__
Iron__mg_l
Silica__mg
33.0
Boron__mg_
2.600
Lithium__m
Bicarbonat
180.0
Sulfur__mg
1600.0
Chlorine__
12000.0
Fluorine__
4.00
Arsenic__m
Total_diss
22900
Total_diss
21700
Cations_an
100
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

 Some of these pots were hotter than others but all of the pots that I placed my hand in, became uncomfortable hot within 10 seconds or less.  I am guessing that the water ranged between 140 and 180 degrees. I even noticed some water bubbling in the middle of the pots.
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

It us interesting to us that this is yet another example that I have found where extremophiles, Algea, Bacteria, and microbes can thrive in such hostile conditions where the other 99.9 percent of living organisms on this planet would perish. 
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

 I think this is some excellent evidence along with the Sulfur eating chemosynthetic bacteria, the Lead eating bacteria, and this finding can prove that life would exist and thrive on other planets.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

When Laura and I first pulled down the 25 mile dirt road to the entrance of the refuge, the surrounding desert reminded me of Death Valleys Basin with a similar distance crossing one side to the other. The mountains were a mix of metamorphic lava, mineral deposits, and an alkali basin but with a section of spring water that has creating a micro Eco system for birds and animals to exist and thrive.  

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN
Lake Bonneville existed from about 32,000 years ago until about 14,500 years ago, when the climate dried up the lake leaving what we know today as the great salt lake.  During this time, volcanic action erupted forming small plateaus and springs spewed out minerals onto the area we know today as Fish Springs.
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

On the range to the east, you can see the shoreline of Lake Bonneville along with other remains including salt deposits that were crunchy and gooy to the point where someone could sink into the salty marsh lands where these spring were located.
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

It was not the safest place to go on a hike as you could easily break through and into a underground stream just feet below with 160-180+ degree mineral water encapsulating your foot. Yes, it did happen to me, I was walking though and broke through up to my knee and could feel my foot heating up fast!!! I pulled my leg out and found stable ground, so be careful walking out there!! I can see how people can fall through the crumbly mineral rim stone dam surround the caldera and cooking themselves like a lobster.  


HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

Walking through this landmine of brittle hot disaster and crunchy mud slogging mineral compound, I was able to find 8 pots with some excellent water flow and one that had a set up of pipes and bath tubs for people to sit in and soak under a cooler condition instead of the scolding hot water re surging from the pot once it reaches open air.
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

Just to the west of two pots is a frame of an old bus that appears to have sunk into the dirt.  I can only imagine what the story is behind this bus finding its resting place as well as the life that this bus must have had during its time.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

further west onto the basin we found some other springs but they had a bit more static water flow and were not as hot.  We assumed that they are not as active as the ones I was at previously, So the place I was at must be a interesting geothermal radius.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

I understand that the crust is a bit thinner between salt lake and California due to the tectonic stretch which must allow for more geothermal activity to persist and develop.  There is also some 10-15k year old lava flows in the desert.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

This is one of the most remote places we have been and only saw a few cars drive by all day long except for the massive heard of sheep and the sheepdogs maintaining their heard.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

There was not anyone at the visitor center or anywhere else on the property and we literally had this place to ourselves.
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

More to the east you can find Baker Hot Springs and further out west is gandy which has warm spring and some caves in the area. I will be visiting that area very soon!!


HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

I was fascinated to see how the desert was so vast and how much it resembled Death Valley but closer than the drive to death valley.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

I bet there are more metamorphic cave systems in the mountain range that is surrounded by this basin too.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

There is also a cave called Hot Springs Cave which is a gated cave to protect the historic value that has been left for excavation from Indian tribes that thrived in the area back when lake Bonneville was more of a vibrant place to hunt and fish. 

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

The cave itself appeared to have some sort of going passage but I was not able to see past the gate.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

There is one spring in particular that I found to be a very interesting opportunity for a dive.  The water was cool, it was a clear blue color, it is big, and there is a substantial amount of water leaving the resurgence.  There is a mountain range of metamorphic volcanic rock behind the spring which has a few small lava tube and fissure caves, so there is a lot going with this lead but there are some drawbacks.

HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

The spring has a fenced in closed gate around the circumference of the spring with a sign that says no public access beyond this point, there are three locked metal relief holes to the south of the spring, and there is another sign that states that swimming is prohibited "dangerous waters".
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN

 I am curious to know what makes these waters dangerous if it is ameba's, flocculating water temp levels, or another unknown activity. This left me in question as to what to expect under these waters and with the sun setting, and a few other factors, I have put this spring on hold for another time. more to be continued....
HOT SPRINGS OF FISH SPRING BASIN


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