The active Lassen hydrothermal system includes a central vapor-dominated zone or zones beneath the Lassen highlands underlain by ~240 °C high-chloride waters that discharge at lower elevations. It is the best-exposed and largest hydrothermal system in the Cascade Range, discharging 41 ± 10 kg/s of steam (~115 MW) and 23 ± 2 kg/s of high-chloride waters (~27 MW). The Lassen system accounts for a full 1/3 of the total high-temperature hydrothermal heat discharge in the U.S. Cascades (140/400 MW). Hydrothermal heat discharge of ~140 MW can be supported by crystallization and cooling of silicic magma at a rate of ~2400 km3/Ma, and the ongoing rates of heat and magmatic CO2 discharge are broadly consistent with a petrologic model for basalt-driven magmatic evolution. The clustering of observed seismicity at ~4–5 km depth may define zones of thermal cracking where the hydrothermal system mines heat from near-plastic rock. If so, the combined areal extent of the primary heat-transfer zones is ~5 km2, the average conductive heat flux over that area is >25 W/m2, and the conductive-boundary length <50 m. Observational records of hydrothermal discharge are likely too short to document long-term transients, whether they are intrinsic to the system or owe to various geologic events such as the eruption of Lassen Peak at 27 ka, deglaciation beginning ~18 ka, the eruptions of Chaos Crags at 1.1 ka, or the minor 1914–1917 eruption at the summit of Lassen Peak. However, there is a rich record of intermittent hydrothermal measurement over the past several decades and more-frequent measurement 2009–present. These data reveal sensitivity to climate and weather conditions, seasonal variability that owes to interaction with the shallow hydrologic system, and a transient 1.5- to twofold increase in high-chloride discharge in response to an earthquake swarm in mid-November 2014.
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