Kenzie Perry: Studying (and experiencing) the water chemistry in Hot Springs, South Dakota

Posted on October 2nd, 2017 by

My name is Kenzie Perry, and this summer I traveled to western South Dakota, to Hot Springs in the southern half of the Black Hills, to complete my thesis field work. My thesis hopes to answer the question of the connection of the thermal springs, and the various creeks that run through this area using chemical analysis of each water sample for trace metals, pH, conductivity, and alkalinity. The field work began as a previous mayor of the town of Hot Springs, led Madison, Laura, and I to her private hot spring which she has been beginning to develop.

Right in the middle of town, 80 degree water was seeping at a steady rate out below what seemed to be a conglomerate layer, which was so neat! We traveled further up the valley and another resident of the town of Hot Springs, welcomed us to her piece of land, where she had three separate springs flowing from different locations on her property.

We gathered water samples at every location, as directly from the source as we could manage, which involved some hiking, digging, and poison ivy. The second day, we took samples from the local water park, Evan’s Plunge, which is built around a natural spring discharging at 5000 cfs, which did not involve any hiking, digging, or poison ivy, but we did get a few strange looks.

This was followed by lunch a local park, before which, we discovered a wolf spider lurking in a pair of my shoes in the trunk. He was sent on his way, as we continued on ours! We then met up with a Hot Springs resident who, with the utmost South Dakota hospitality, gave us a full tour of the thermal springs on his property, some of which turned out to be the origin of the rivers we were following!

We continued taking water samples at every locality, with only a few breaks for swimming in the Hot Springs themselves and pretty cool waterfalls. Many of the people in Hot Springs, do not know, or are unsure of the actual content of the water from their thermal springs, and would love to find out. This could encourage development of private springs by the owner, or determine the best use of the water, in addition to answering the thesis question I have posed. I hope to be able to give them a summary of what is in their water, as well as answer my thesis question as I continue to work on the project this year!

 

 

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