Magmatic volatiles to assess permeable volcano-tectonic structures in the Los Humeros geothermal field, Mexico

Jentsch, Anna; Jolie, Egbert; Jones, David G.; Taylor-Curran, Helen; Peiffer, Loïc; Zimmer, Martin; Lister, Bob. 2020 Magmatic volatiles to assess permeable volcano-tectonic structures in the Los Humeros geothermal field, Mexico. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 394, 106820.

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Magmatic volatiles can be considered as the surface fingerprint of active volcanic systems, both during periods of quiescent and eruptive volcanic activity. The spatial variability of gas emissions at Earth's surface is a proxy for structural discontinuities in the subsurface of volcanic systems. We conducted extensive and regular spaced soil gas surveys within the Los Humeros geothermal field to improve the understanding of the structural control on fluid flow. Surveys at different scales were performed with the aim to i) identify areas of increased gas emissions (reservoir scale), ii) their relation to (un)known volcano-tectonic structures (fault scale) favoring fluid flow, and iii) determine the origin of gas emissions. Herein, we show results from a CO2 efflux scouting survey, which was performed across the main geothermal production zone (6 km × 4 km) together with soil temperature measurements. We identified five areas with increased CO2 emissions, where further sampling was performed with denser sampling grids to understand the fault zone architecture and local variations in gas emissions. CO2 efflux values range from below detection limit of the device to 1464 g m−2 d−1 with a total output of 87 t d−1 across an area of 13.7 km2. Furthermore, δ13CCO2 and 3He/4He analyses complemented the dataset in order to assess the origin of soil gases. Carbon isotopic data cover a broad spectrum from biogenous to endogenous sources. Determined 3He/4He ratios indicate a mantle component in the samples of up to 65% being most evident in the northwestern and southwestern part of the study area. We show that a systematic sampling approach on reservoir scale is necessary for the identification and assessment of major permeable fault segments. The combined processing of CO2 efflux and δ13CCO2 facilitated the detection of permeable structural segments with a connection to the deep, high-temperature geothermal reservoir, also in areas with low to intermediate CO2 emissions. The results of this study complement existing geophysical datasets and define further promising areas for future exploration activities in the north- and southwestern sector of the production field.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 03770273
Date made live: 10 Jul 2020 13:35 +0 (UTC)

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