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Transport of Heat by Hydrothermal Circulation in a Young Rift Setting: Observations From the Auka and JaichMaa Ja'ag' Vent Field in the Pescadero Basin, Southern Gulf of California

  • Author(s): Negrete-Aranda, R;
  • Neumann, F;
  • Contreras, J;
  • Harris, RN;
  • Spelz, RM;
  • Zierenberg, R;
  • Caress, DW
  • et al.
Abstract

Heat flow measurements collected throughout the Auka and JaichMaa Ja'ag' hydrothermal vent fields in the central graben of the Southern Pescadero Basin, southern Gulf of California, indicate upflow of hydrothermal fluids associated with rifting dissipate heat in excess of 10 W/m2 around faults that have a few kilometers in length. Paradoxically, longer faults do not show signs of venting. Heat flow anomalies slowly decay to background values of ∼2 W/m2 at distances of ∼1 km from these faults following an inverse square-root distance law. We develop a near-fault model of heat transport in steady state for the Auka vent field based on the fundamental Green's function solution of the heat equation. The model includes the effects of circulation in fracture networks, and the lateral seepage of geothermal brines to surrounding hemipelagic sediments. We use an optimal fitting method to estimate the reservoir depth, permeability, and circulation rate. Independently derived constraints for the model, indicate the heat source is at a depth of ∼5.7 km; from the model, permeability and flow rates in the fracture system are ∼10−14 m2 and 10−6 m/s, respectively, and ∼10−16 m2 and 10−8 m/s in the basin aquitards, respectively. Model results point to the importance of fault scaling laws in controlling sediment-hosted vent fields and slow circulation throughout low permeability sediments in controlling the brine's chemistry. Although the fault model seems appropriate and straightforward for the Pescadero vents, it does seem to be the exception to the other known sediment-hosted vent fields in the Pacific.

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