Chemical And Isotopic Investigation Of Warm Springs Associated With Normal Faults In Utah

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Journal Article: Chemical And Isotopic Investigation Of Warm Springs Associated With Normal Faults In Utah

Thermal springs associated with normal faults in Utah have been analyzed for major cations and anions, and oxygen and hydrogen isotopes. Springs with measured temperatures averaging greater than 40°C are characterized by Na + K- and SO4 + Cl-rich waters containing 103 to 104 mg/l of dissolved solids. Lower temperature springs, averaging less than 40°C, are more enriched in Ca + Mg relative to Na + K. Chemical variations monitored through time in selected thermal springs are probably produced by mixing with non-thermal waters. During the summer months at times of maximum flow, selected hot springs exhibit their highest temperatures and maximum enrichments in most chemical constituents. Cation ratios and silica concentrations remain relatively constant through time for selected Utah thermal springs assuring the applicability of the geothermometer calculations regardless of the time of year. Geothermometer calculations utilizing either the quartz (no steam loss), chalcedony or Mg-corrected Na/K/Ca methods indicate that most thermal springs in Utah associated with normal faults have subsurface temperatures in the range of 25 to less than 120°C. This temperature range suggests fluid circulation is restricted to depths less than about three kilometers assuming an average thermal gradient of about 40°C/km. Thermodynamic calculations suggest that most thermal springs are oversaturated with respect to calcite, quartz, pyrophyllite, (Fe, Mg)-montmorillonite, microcline and hematite, and undersaturated with respect to anhydrite, gypsum, fluorite and anorthite. Chalcedony and cristobalite appear to be the only phases consistently at or near saturation in most waters. Theoretical evaluation of mixing on mineral saturation trends indicates that anhydrite and calcite become increasingly more undersaturated as cold, dilute groundwater mixes with a hot (150°C), NaCl-rich fluid. The evolution of these thermal waters issuing from faults appears to be one involving the dissolution of silicates such as feldspars and micas by CO2-enriched groundwaters that become more reactive with increasing temperature and/or time. Solution compositions plotted on mineral equilibrium diagrams trend from product phases such as kaolinite or montmorillonite toward reactant phases dominated by alkali feldspars. Isotopic compositions indicate that these springs are of local surface origin, either meteoric (low TDS, < 5000 mg/l) or connate ground water (high TDS, > 5000 mg/l). Deviations from the meteoric water line are the result of rock-water isotopic exchange, mixing or evaporation. Fluid source regions and residence times of selected thermal spring systems (Red Hill, Thermo) have been evaluated through the use of a σ D-contour map of central and western Utah. Ages for waters in these areas range from about 13 years to over 500 years. These estimates are comparable to those made for low-temperature hydrothermal systems in Iceland.

David R. Cole

Published Journal 
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 1983

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David R. Cole. 1983. Chemical And Isotopic Investigation Of Warm Springs Associated With Normal Faults In Utah. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. (!) .