Valles Caldera National Preserve Added To List Of Parks With ‘Significant Thermal Features’ Under Geothermal Steam Act

Sulphur Springs in VCNP contains volcanic features like sulfuric-acid hot springs, volcanic fumaroles and steaming mud-pots, and supports a range of ‘extremophile’ algae and bacteria living in the high-temperature acidic pool and stream environments. Courtesy/Seth Gayner


JEMEZ SPRINGS – The National Park Service has added Valles Caldera National Preserve to the list of parks with “significant thermal features” under the Geothermal Steam Act.

The Preserve is only the 17th park unit to make the nationwide list.

Valles Caldera was nominated for recognition in 2016, and following a public review and comment period, received nearly unanimous public and tribal support.

“This designation provides well-deserved recognition of these special volcanic features and will help the preserve access resources to support their protection and promote scientific study and educational programs for the public,” Valles Caldera superintendent, Jorge Silva-Bañuelos said. The designation can be used to legally limit drilling and geothermal development in areas nearby that might damage thermal activity inside the preserve.

Valles Caldera National Preserve, located in the center of the Jemez Mountains volcanic field in northern New Mexico, contains numerous volcanic geothermal features, including sulfuric acid fumaroles, mud pots, hot springs, and cold springs. In one site alone, Sulphur Springs, there are seven named sulfuric acid springs within a 20-acre area.

These springs include colorfully descriptive names such as Kidney and Stomach Trouble Spring, Footbath Spring, Ladies’ Bathhouse Spring, Laxitive [sic] Spring, Turkey Spring, Lemonade Spring, and Electric Spring.

No other sulfate-based acidic hot springs occur in the State of New Mexico, and they are rare throughout the rest of the United States.

The listing process is explained at Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 62 / Friday, April 2, 2021 / Notices. 

Read Geothermal Steam Act here.