Mercury Vapor

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Exploration Technique: Mercury Vapor

Exploration Technique Information
Exploration Group: Lab Analysis Techniques
Exploration Sub Group: Fluid Lab Analysis
Parent Exploration Technique: Fluid Lab Analysis
Information Provided by Technique
Stratigraphic/Structural: Anomalously high concentrations can indicate high permeability or conduit for fluid flow
Hydrological: Field wide soil sampling can generate a geometrical approximation of fluid circulation
Thermal: High concentration in soils can be indicative of active hydrothermal activity
Mercury Vapor:
Mercury is discharged as a highly volatile vapor during hydrothermal activity and high concentrations in soils can be used to approximate the geometry of fluid circulation in an active hydrothermal system.
Other definitions:Wikipedia Reegle

Mercury is a natural byproduct of mantle or deep-crustal derived fluids, high concentrations can be indicative of high crustal heat flow, exposed or outcropping ore deposits, areas of deep crustal faulting, and/or seismic activity (Schluter, 2000). Due to Mercury’s volatility it can be used to locate high temperature geothermal resources.
Use in Geothermal Exploration
High mercury content in vapors or soils is an indication of geothermal activity. Varekamp and Buseck (1983) describe a methodology of characterizing a geothermal resource based on mercury concentrations. Due to the imprint mercury vapors make on soils, the geometry of mercury anomalies can be used to construct a rough geometry of the circulation of hydrothermal fluids. The standards described by Varekamp and Buseck (1983) are “Peak values (up to several 100 ppm Hg) occur in fumaroles of vapor-dominated systems, around hot springs, and in zones overlying steeply dipping, hot-water aquifers. Aureole values (up to several 100 ppb Hg) are found in zones surrounding the peak areas and delineate areas with shallow geothermal convection. Background values vary between 7 and 40 ppb Hg (geometric mean).”
Related Techniques

Potential Pitfalls
Typically mercury attaches to soils or clays and can be re-volatized into the atmosphere not long after it arrives, but occasionally it can be incorporated in to a mineral structure as either a primary (cinnabar) or as a trace constituent (pyrite, sphalerite, etc.). This can bind the mercury from volatizing into the atmosphere further complicating the interpretation between paleo and present geothermal systems (Varekamp and Buseck, 1983).

Page Area Activity Start Date Activity End Date Reference Material
Mercury Vapor (Kooten, 1987) Unspecified

Mercury Vapor At Akutan Fumaroles Area (Kolker, Et Al., 2010) Akutan Fumaroles Area

Mercury Vapor At Breitenbush Hot Springs Area (Varekamp & Buseck, 1983) Breitenbush Hot Springs Area

Mercury Vapor At Desert Peak Area (Varekamp & Buseck, 1983) Desert Peak Area

Mercury Vapor At Haleakala Volcano Area (Thomas, 1986) Haleakala Volcano Area

Mercury Vapor At Hualalai Northwest Rift Area (Thomas, 1986) Hualalai Northwest Rift Area

Mercury Vapor At Kawaihae Area (Thomas, 1986) Kawaihae Area

Mercury Vapor At Kilauea East Rift Area (Thomas, 1986) Kilauea East Rift Area

Mercury Vapor At Lahaina-Kaanapali Area (Thomas, 1986) Lahaina-Kaanapali Area

Mercury Vapor At Lassen Volcanic National Park Area (Varekamp & Buseck, 1983) Lassen Volcanic National Park Area

Mercury Vapor At Long Valley Caldera Geothermal Area (Klusman & Landress, 1979) Long Valley Caldera Geothermal Area 1979

Mercury Vapor At Lualualei Valley Area (Thomas, 1986) Lualualei Valley Area

Mercury Vapor At Mauna Loa Northeast Rift Area (Thomas, 1986) Mauna Loa Northeast Rift Area

Mercury Vapor At Mccoy Geothermal Area (DOE GTP) Mccoy Geothermal Area

Mercury Vapor At Medicine Lake Area (Kooten, 1987) Medicine Lake Area

Mercury Vapor At Mickey Hot Springs Area (Varekamp & Buseck, 1983) Mickey Hot Springs Area

Mercury Vapor At Mokapu Penninsula Area (Thomas, 1986) Mokapu Penninsula Area

Mercury Vapor At Olowalu-Ukumehame Canyon Area (Thomas, 1986) Olowalu-Ukumehame Canyon Area

Mercury Vapor At Salt Wells Area (Henkle, Et Al., 2005) Salt Wells Area 2005

Mercury Vapor At Silver Peak Area (Henkle, Et Al., 2005) Silver Peak Area

Mercury Vapor At Socorro Mountain Area (Kooten, 1987) Socorro Mountain Area

Mercury Vapor At Vale Hot Springs Area (Varekamp & Buseck, 1983) Vale Hot Springs Area

Mercury Vapor At Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes Region Area (Kodosky, 1989) Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes Region Area

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