Geochemistry and genesis of geothermal well water from a carbonate–evaporite aquifer in Chongqing, SW China

  • Pingheng YangEmail author
  • Luo Dan
  • Chris Groves
  • Shiyou Xie
Original Article


Thermal water is an important natural resource. The hydrogeochemistry and geothermometry of thermal water from the Qianyi well (TWQW), which is associated with the Tongjing Warm Springs located in the Eastern Sichuan Fold Belts in Chongqing, SW China, was investigated. The reservoir of this region consists of upper and middle Triassic carbonate and evaporite rocks. The TWQW was of Ca–Mg–SO4 type with water temperature of 47.3 °C. Plotting on the Giggenbach Na–K–Mg diagram indicates that the TWQW was immature due to a mixing of shallow karst groundwater and thermal water. The mixing model indicates that the TWQW was composed of 49% deep thermal water and 51% shallow karst groundwater. Geothermometers suggest a reservoir temperature of about 79 °C, locating this aquifer at a depth of ~ 2.5 km. The δD and δ18O values plot near the local meteoric water line, suggesting that the TWQW originates from local meteoric water at recharge elevations of ~ 780–1160 m a.s.l.. A conceptual model of the genesis for Tongjing Warm Springs was developed. Rainfall infiltrates via karst outcrops in the elevated areas of the northern Tongluoxia anticline, extracts heat from reservoir rocks at depth, dissolves minerals and becomes thermal water. The thermal water is driven by gravity, flows through the carbonate–evaporite aquifer, and follows the Tongluoxia anticline of the Eastern Sichuan Fold Belts to the southwest. The thermal water ascends to the surface along the incision created by the Wentang River and mixes with shallow karst groundwater to create warm springs. This study may be relevant to other karst geothermal reservoirs in China.


Carbonate–evaporite Thermal water Reservoir temperature Mixture fraction Geothermometer Tongjing, China 



We thank Brian Ham (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Resources) for his constructive comments. This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (XDJK2018AB002), and the China Scholarship Council (CSC).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Field Scientific Observation and Research Base of Karst Eco-environments at Nanchuan in Chongqing, Ministry of Natural Resources of the People’s Republic of China, Chongqing Key Laboratory of Karst Environment, School of Geographical SciencesSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Shale Gas and Geoengineering, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, Department of Geography and GeologyWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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