Hydrothermal Alteration In The Reykjanes Geothermal System- Insights From Iceland Deep Drilling Program Well Rn-17

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Journal Article: Hydrothermal Alteration In The Reykjanes Geothermal System- Insights From Iceland Deep Drilling Program Well Rn-17

The Reykjanes geothermal system is a seawater-recharged hydrothermal system that appears to be analogous to seafloor hydrothermal systems in terms of host rock type and low water/rock alteration. The similarities make the Reykjanes system a useful proxy for seafloor vents. At some time during the Pleistocene, the system was dominated by meteoric water recharge, and fluid composition at Reykjanes has evolved through time as a result of changing proportions of meteoric water influx as well as differing pressure and temperature conditions. The purpose of this study is to characterize secondary mineralization, degree of metasomatic alteration, and bulk composition of cuttings from well RN-17 from the Reykjanes geothermal system. The basaltic host rock includes hyaloclastite, breccia, tuff, extrusive basalt, diabase, as well as a marine sedimentary sequence. The progressive hydrothermal alteration sequence observed with increasing depth results from reaction of geothermal fluids with the basaltic host rock. An assemblage of greenschist facies alteration minerals, including actinolite, prehnite, epidote and garnet, occurs at depths as shallow as 350 m; these minerals are commonly found in Icelandic geothermal systems at temperatures above 250°C (Bird and Spieler, 2004). This requires hydrostatic pressures that exceed the present-day depth to boiling point curve, and therefore must record alteration at higher fluid pressures, perhaps as a result of Pleistocene glaciation. Major, minor, and trace element profiles of the cuttings indicate transitional MORB to OIB composition with limited metasomatic shifts in easily mobilized elements. Changes in MgO, K2O and loss on ignition indicate that metasomatism is strongly correlated with protolith properties. The textures of alteration minerals reveal alteration style to be strongly dependent on protolith as well. Hyaloclastites are intensely altered with calc-silicate alteration assemblages comprising calcic hydrothermal plagioclase, grandite garnet, prehnite, epidote, hydrothermal clinopyroxene, and titanite. In contrast, crystalline basalts and intrusive rocks display a range in alteration intensity from essentially unaltered to pervasive and nearly complete albitization of igneous feldspar and uralitization of clinopyroxene. Hydrothermal anorthite (An92-An98) occurs in veins in the most altered basalt cuttings and is significantly more calcic than igneous feldspar (An48-An79). Amphibole compositions change from actinolite to hornblende at depth. Hydrothermal clinopyroxene, which occurs in veins, has greater variation in Fe content and is systematically more calcic than igneous pyroxene and also lacks uralitic textures. Solid solutions of prehnite, epidote, and garnet indicate evolving equilibria with respect to aluminum and ferric iron.

Naomi Marks, Peter Schiffman, Robert A. Zierenberg, Hjalti Franzson and Gudmundur o Fridleifsson

Published Journal 
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2010

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Naomi Marks,Peter Schiffman,Robert A. Zierenberg,Hjalti Franzson,Gudmundur o Fridleifsson. 2010. Hydrothermal Alteration In The Reykjanes Geothermal System- Insights From Iceland Deep Drilling Program Well Rn-17. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. (!) .