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Hotsprings, A Steamy Subject ...
Where does the spring water come from?

Most of the rain and snow that falls on the slopes of a mountain ends up in rivers and streams. Some of it, however, filters down through the cracks and pores in the mountain rock, pulled by gravity to a depth of three kilometres below the surface. It is this water which later bubbles to the surface in our Canadian hot springs.

Why is it warm?
As it seeps into the ground, the water becomes hotter and hotter — heated by radioactive decay in the earth's core. When the water boils, pressure forces it upward, just like the water in a coffee percolator. The speed at which the water rises, and the degree to which it mixes with cold ground water, causes the temperature to fluctuate.

Where does the odor come from?
As the water heats up, it dissolves minerals in the surrounding rock. When these dissolved minerals break down, they release hydrogen sulphide gas, which smells like rotten eggs. Pyrite and gypsum are two common sulphur-bearing minerals dissolved in the Banff and Miette hot springs. The water at Radium Hot Springs is odorless because of the type of rock in that area.

What is tufa? (pronounced too-fa)
As the hot springs water bubbles from its underground channel, it begins to drop the load of minerals it gained on its journey through the earth. One of these minerals, calcium carbonate, hardens into a porous grey/brown rock called tufa. The entire hillside around each hotspring is composed of tufa.
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Hot Springs Comparison Chart
No two hot springs are the same. Differences in location, often mean differences in the amount, temperature and mineral content of the water. For example, the deeper the water goes, the hotter it gets. Rainfall and snow-melt cause water temperatures to fluctuate. The type of rock in the area determines what minerals are dissolved in the spring water.

 
Water Volume:

Banff Upper Hot Springs - Banff National Park 454 Liters/min
Radium Hot Springs - Kootenay National Park 1375 Liters/min
Miette Hot Springs - Jasper National Park 1540 Liters/min

Maximum Temperature:
Banff Upper Hot Springs 47.3 °C
Radium Hot Springs 45.5 °C
Miette Hot Springs 53.9 °C

Water Characteristics:
Banff Upper Hot Springs

strong sulphur smell and taste
tufa deposit
pH: 7.15
dissolved solids: 1677 mg/L

Radium Hot Springs
tasteless, odourless
pH: 7.05
dissolved solids: 706 mg/L

Miette Hot Springs
medium sulphur smell and taste, tufa deposit.
pH: 6.8
dissolved solids: 1798 mg/L

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