Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Regional and Local Trends in helium isotopes, basin and range province, western North
America: Evidence for deep permeable pathways
- Author(s): Kennedy, B. Mack
- van Soest, Matthijs C.
- et al.
Fluids from the western margin of the Basin and Range have helium isotope ratios as high as ~;6-7 Ra, indicating a strong mantle melt influence and consistent with recent and current volcanic activity. Moving away from these areas, helium isotope ratios decrease rapidly to 'background' values of around 0.6 Ra, and then gradually decrease toward the east to low values of ~;0.1 Ra at the eastern margin of the Basin and Range. Superimposed on this general regional trend are isolated features with elevated helium isotope ratios (0.8-2.1 Ra) compared to the local background. Spring geochemistry and local geology indicate that these "He-spikes" are not related to current or recent magmatic activity, suggesting that the spikes may reflect either localized zones deep mantle melting or deep permeable pathways (faults) with high vertical fluid flow rates. A detailed study of one of the He-spikes (Dixie Valley and the Stillwater Range Front Fault system), indicates that features with high 3He/4He ratios are confined to the range front normal faults characteristic of the extensional regime in the Basin and Range, suggesting that these faults are deep permeable pathways. However, not all range front fault systems transmit fluids with a mantle signature, implying that not all have deep permeable pathways.