Self-organizing thermal fluid flow in fractured crystalline rock: a geochemical and theoretical approach to evaluating fluid flow in the southern Idaho batholith, USA

Auto-structuration de l’écoulement thermal fluide dans une roche cristalline fracturée : une approche géochimique et théorique pour évaluer l’écoulement de fluides dans le batholite Sud de l’Idaho, Etats Unis d’Amérique

Flujo de un fluido termal autoorganizado en roca cristalina fracturada: un enfoque geoquímico y teórico para evaluar el flujo de fluidos en el sur del batolito Idaho, EE.UU

断裂结晶岩中自组式热流体流动:美国爱达荷州南部岩基中流体流动评价的地化和理论方法

Auto-organização térmica do fluxo de fluidos em rochas cristalinas fraturadas: uma aproximação geoquímica e teórica para avaliação do fluxo de fluidos no batólito do sul de Idaho, EUA

Abstract

Thermal springs in the Idaho batholith (USA) discharge at discrete locations along a 50+ km reach of the Middle Fork of the Boise River (MFBR). Recharge water flows through Basin and Range extension fractures where it is heated by the geothermal gradient and ultimately discharges from the damage zone of the trans-Challis faults located near the bottom of the MFBR. Stable isotopes of water, 14C groundwater ages, fracture and fault orientations, fracture volume changes due to chemical evolution, and recharge area calculations suggest that the thermal springs issue from individual hydrothermal systems and that they are self-organizing. Water evolves chemically along flow paths, dissolving feldspars and precipitating secondary minerals. Secondary minerals accumulate in less-efficient fractures and are flushed from the more efficient ones. Flow-area calculations using heat-flow, exponential decay-of-porosity, and curve-intersection methods show that many of the thermal systems extend beyond their immediate topographic watershed, and that some capture water from adjacent watersheds. Geochemical/flow feedback loops that provide a mechanism for self-organization are modeled using PHREEQC, and positive and negative fracture volume changes are calculated. Criteria for identifying self-organizing granitoid thermal groundwater systems are suggested.

Résumé

Les sources thermales du batholite de l’Idaho (USA) sont localisées le long de la rivière de la Middle Fork of the Boise (RMFB) sur 50 km. L’eau de recharge s’écoule à travers des fractures du bassin et de la chaîne montagneuse où elle acquière sa température du fait du gradient géothermique et émerge finalement de la zone fracturée des failles de trans-Challis localisée près du lit de la rivière (RMFB). L’utilisation des isotopes stables de l’eau, la détermination des âges de l’eau souterraine à l’aide du 14C, les orientations des failles et fractures, les changements de volume de fracturation dus à l’évolution chimique, et les calculs d’aire de recharge suggèrent que les sources thermales sont issues de systèmes hydrothermaux particuliers structurée de façon indépendante. L’eau évolue chimiquement le long des chenaux d’écoulement, dissolvant les feldspaths et précipitant des minéraux secondaires. Les minéraux secondaires s’accumulent dans les fractures moins actives et sont expulsés des plus actives. Les calculs de l’aire de circulation en utilisant le flux thermique, la décroissance exponentielle de la porosité et des méthodes d’intersection des courbes montrent que plusieurs systèmes thermaux s’étendant au delà de leurs lignes de partage des eaux topographiques immédiate, et que certains systèmes capturent l’eau de bassins versants adjacents. Les boucles de rétroaction constituant un mécanisme d’auto-structuration sont modélisés en utilisant PHREEQC, et les variations de volume positives et négatives des fractures sont calculées. Des critères pour identifier le mécanisme d’auto-structuration thermale des systèmes aquifères des granitoïdes sont suggérés.

Resumen

Los manantiales termales en el batolito de Idaho (EEUU) descargan en posiciones puntuales a lo largo de una distancia de más de 50 km en el Middle Fork del Río Boise (MFBR). El agua de recarga fluye a través de las fracturas de extensión de la cuenca y cordones donde es calentada por el gradiente geotérmico y por último descarga desde la zona de afectada de la falla de trans-Challis situada cerca de la base del MFBR. Los cálculos de isótopos estable del agua, edades de agua subterránea por 14C, orientaciones de fallas y fracturas, cambios del volumen de fractura debido a la evolución química, y área de recarga sugieren que el tema de los manantiales termales proviene de sistemas hidrotermales individuales y que ellos están autoorganizados. El agua evoluciona químicamente a lo largo de las trayectorias de flujo, disolviendo los feldespatos y precipitando minerales secundarios. Los minerales secundarios se acumulan en las fracturas menos eficientes y son barridos de las fracturas más eficientes. Los cálculos del área de flujo usando el método de flujo del calor, decaimiento exponencial de la porosidad, y de las curvas de intersección muestran que muchos de los sistemas termales se extienden más allá de su cuenca topográfica principal, y que algunos capturan agua proveniente de cuencas adyacentes. Se modelaron los circuitos de retroalimentación geoquímica y de flujo que proporcionan una mecanismo para la autoorganización usando PHREEQC, y se calcularon los cambios de volúmenes de fracturas positivos o negativos. Se sugieren criterios para identificar los sistemas granitoides autoorganizados de agua subterránea termal.

摘要

美国爱达荷州岩基中热泉排泄到沿博弈西河中段50公里的区域内。补给水通过盆地和山脉断裂流动,由于地热梯度缘故,补给水在此受热,最终从位于博弈西河中段附近的跨Challis 断层损伤带排泄。水中的稳定同位素、地下水 碳14年龄、断裂和断层的走向、化学演化导致的断裂体积变化及补给区计算结果显示,热泉发源于单个的自组式水热系统。水化学上沿水流通道演化,溶解长石和沉淀的次生矿物。次生矿物在低效率的断裂中积累,并被冲到高效率的断裂中。用热流、孔隙度指数式衰减和曲线交会法得到的水流区计算结果显示,许多热系统延伸到毗邻的流域之外,有些热系统从邻近的流域获获取水。采用PHREEQC模拟了可以提供自组机理的地球化学/水流反馈回路。并计算了断裂体积正负变化。提出了确定自组式花岗岩类岩石地热地下水系统的标准。

Resumo

Nascentes termais no batólito de Idaho (EUA) descarregam em locais discretos ao longo de um trecho de mais de 50 km do Middle Fork do Rio Boise (MFBR). A água de recarga flui através da Bacia e de uma gama extensa de fraturas, onde é aquecida pelo gradiente geotérmico e finalmente descarregada na zona de esmagamento das falhas trans-Challis localizadas próximo da base do MFBR. Os isótopos estáveis da água, as idades 14C da água subterrânea, as orientações das fraturas e falhas, as alterações dos volumes das fraturas devido à evolução química, e os cálculos da área de recarga sugerem que as nascentes termais surgem a partir de sistemas hidrotermais individuais e que estes são auto-organizados. A água evolui quimicamente ao longo de linhas de fluxo, dissolvendo feldspatos e precipitando minerais secundários. Os minerais secundários acumulam-se em fraturas menos eficientes e são arrastados das fraturas mais eficientes. Cálculos de áreas de fluxo usando fluxo de calor, decaimento exponencial da porosidade e métodos de interseção de curvas, mostram que muitos dos sistemas termais se estendem muito para além da sua bacia topográfica imediata, e que alguns capturam água em bacias adjacentes. Ciclos de regeneração geoquímica/fluxo, os quais providenciam um mecanismo para a auto-organização, são modelados através do uso do PHREEQC, e são calculadas alterações positivas e negativas no volume das fraturas. São sugeridos critérios para identificação de sistemas termais de água subterrânea auto-organizados em granitóides.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to express our appreciation to David Nelson who assisted in the early stages of the research and to Stephen T. Nelson and Barry Bickmore who critically reviewed portions of the work. The research was partially funded by the Brigham Young University Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry.

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Correspondence to Alan L. Mayo.

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Published in the theme issue “Hydrogeology of Shallow Thermal Systems”

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Mayo, A.L., Himes, S.A. & Tingey, D.G. Self-organizing thermal fluid flow in fractured crystalline rock: a geochemical and theoretical approach to evaluating fluid flow in the southern Idaho batholith, USA. Hydrogeol J 22, 25–45 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-013-1071-3

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Keywords

  • Fracture flow
  • USA
  • Hydrothermal groundwater capture zone
  • Crystalline rock
  • Thermal conditions