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Apacheta, a new geothermal prospect in Northern Chile

  • Author(s): Urzua, Luis
  • Powell, Tom
  • Cumming, William B.
  • Dobson, Patrick
  • et al.
Abstract

The discovery of two high-temperature fumaroles, with gas geochemistry compatible with an economic geothermal system, established Apacheta as one of the most attractive geothermal exploration prospects in northern Chile. These remote fumaroles at 5,150 m elevation were first sampled in 1999 by ENAP and its partners, following up on the reports of a CODELCO water exploration well that flowed small amounts of dry steam at 4,540 m elevation in the valley 4.5 km east of the fumaroles. The prospect is associated with a Plio-Pleistocene volcanic complex located within a NW-trending graben along the axis of the high Andes. The regional water table is ~;4,200 masl. There are no hot springs, just the 88 degrees C steam well and the 109 degrees and 118 degrees C fumaroles with gas compositions that indicate reservoir temperatures of greater than or equal to 250 degrees C, using a variety of gas geothermometers. An MT-TDEM survey was completed in 2001-2002 by Geotermica del Norte (SDN), an ENAP-CODELCO partnership, to explore the Apacheta geothermal concession. The survey results indicated that base of the low resistivity clay cap has a structural apex just west of the fumaroles, a pattern typically associated with shallow permeability within a high temperature geothermal resource. SGN plans to drill at least one exploration well in 2002-03 to characterize a possible economic resource at Apacheta.

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