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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 32 (1987) 287-298 287

Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam - - Printed in The Netherlands


THE HYDROTHERMAL SYSTEM OF THE CALABOZOS
CALDERA, CENTRAL CHILEAN ANDES
ANITA L. GRUNDER 1, J. MICHAEL THOMPSON 2 and W. HILDRETH 2
1Geology Department, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, U.S.A.
zU.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025, U.S.A.
(Received August 4, 1986; revised and accepted January 14, 1987)
Ab s t r a c t
Grunder, A.L., Thompson, J.M. and Hildreth, W., 1987. The hydrothermal system of the Calabozos caldera, central
Chilean Andes. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 32: 287-298.
Active thermal springs associated with the late Pleistocene Calabozos caldera complex occur in two groups: the
Colorado group which issues along structures related to caldera collapse and resurgence, and the Puesto Calabozos
group, a nearby cluster that is chemically distinct and probably unrelated to the Colorado springs. Most of the Colorado
group can be related to a hypothetical parent water containing ~ 400 ppm C1 at ~ 250 C by dilution with > 50% of
cold meteoric water. The thermal springs in the most deeply eroded part of the caldera were derived from the same
parent water by boiling.
The hydrothermal system has probably been active for at least as long as 300,000 years, based on geologic evidence
and calculations ofpaleo-heat flow. There is no evidence for economic mineralization at shallow depth. The Calabozos
hydrothermal system would be an attractive geothermal prospect were its location not so remote.
I n t r o d u c t i o n
Hot springs and steam vents occur along
faults associated with collapse and resurgence
of the Calabozos caldera, a late Pleistocene
structure on the crest of the central Chilean
Andes. This active hydrothermal system is of
interest for four reasons:
(1) It is the present surface manifestation of
a major hydrothermal system t hat has probably
persisted for 300,000 years or more.
(2) Similar hot-spring systems are impor-
t ant targets for geothermal exploration.
(3) Sinter deposits associated with hydro-
thermal systems can bear economic Au and Hg
mineralization.
(4) It may be the surficial analog of hydro-
thermal systems that produce Cu-porphyry
mineralization.
Chemical analyses of hot waters and associ-
ated hydrothermal deposits from the Calabozos
region are used to calculate subsurface water
temperatures and to compare the Calabozos
system to other active hydrothermal systems.
Although there is no surficial evidence that eco-
nomic mineralization is present at shallow lev-
els in the Calabozos system, the dilute waters
and high calculated subsurface temperatures of
the reservoir make it an attractive geothermal
exploration target.
0377-0273/87/$03.50 1987 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.
288
EXPLANATION:
I t Holocene and Pleistocene
andesite to rhyodacite
lavas and t uf t s
Loma Seca Tuff
Basement of Mesozoic
sedimentary and vol -
canic rocks and l ate
Tertiary andesites,
dacites,and plutons
Gypsiferous Mesozoic
rocks
Hot-spring cluster
0 Steam vents
Cold spring
- ~ Holocene volcanic vent
A Pleistocene eruptive
center
/ J c o n t a c t
.4 - / f a u l t bar on down-
thrown side
.,4 caldera hinge zone
....-. r i ver or stream
2600 el evat i on in meters
Fig. 1. Simplified geologic map of the Calabozos caldera. RC = Rio Colorado; VDC = Volc~in Descabezado Chico; CDM= Cerro
del Medio; CN = Cerro Negro. Llolli N and Llolli S refer to thermal vents on the north and south banks, respectively, of the
Rio Colorado.
Geologic setting
The Calabozos cal dera is l ocat ed at 35 30' S
at an el evat i on of ~ 2600 m (Fig. 1 ). It has been
t he locus of vol umi nous i nt er medi at e to silicic
vol cani sm dur i ng t he late Pl ei st ocene. The
geology, pr esent ed by Hi l dr et h et al. (1984), is
summar i zed below.
Regi onal bas ement rocks, exposed on t he
nor t her n and east er n side of t he caldera, are
composed of late Mesozoic vol cani cl ast i c sedi-
ment ar y rocks i nt er bedded wi t h l i mest ones,
gypsum, and t hi n lavas and tuffs; a gypsum dia-
pi r several 100 met er s in di amet er, is exposed
at Llolli (Fig. 1). The Mesozoic rocks are
unconf or mabl y overl ai n by fl at -l yi ng to gent l y
west -di ppi ng, Pl ei st ocene andesi t e lavas. Base-
me nt rocks exposed to t he sout h and west of t he
caldera are chiefly late Ter t i ar y lavas and t uffs
of t he Campanar i o f or mat i on (Drake, 1976),
also capped by subhor i zont al andesi t e lavas.
Lat e Ter t i ar y grani t oi d i nt r usi ons are exposed
locally t hr oughout t he region.
At least two maj or ash-flow sheet s er upt ed
from t he Calabozos cal dera 0.30 and 0.15 Ma
ago, composi ng Uni t V and Uni t S, respec-
tively, of t he Loma Seca Tuff. A 0.8-Ma-old ash-
flow, Uni t L, underl i es Uni t V near t he sout h-
ern and east er n cal dera mar gi n and is compo-
si t i onal l y and mi neral ogi cal l y si mi l ar to Uni t s
V and S, but it has not been conclusively l i nked
to t he Calabozos caldera. Each uni t of t he Loma
Seca Tuf f r epr esent s 200-350 km 3 of composi -
t i onal l y zoned magma rangi ng from rhyodaci t e
to dacite.
The pr esent 8-by-26-km Calabozos caldera is
a composi t e t r ap- door collapse feat ure caused
by er upt i on of Uni t s V and S. On t he nor t her n
and east er n sides of t he caldera (Fig. 1), col-
lapse is defi ned by a well-exposed series of near-
vertical faul t s wi t h combi ned di spl acement of
at least 500 m, whi ch lessens sout hward. The
west ern mar gi n of t he caldera appears to be a
flexural hi nge zone and is largely covered by
Hol ocene lavas and cones. Br oad st ep-faul t ed
regions charact eri ze t he east ern and sout her n
margi ns of t he caldera.
Aft er caldera collapse, magmat i c resurgence
domed t he nor t her n hal f of t he caldera. Li ke
collapse, cal dera resurgence was asymmet ri c,
wi t h ma xi mum upl i ft on t he east ern side of t he
dome and an asymmet r i c graben on t he west-
ern, hi nged side. A compl ex web of nor mal
faults, many wi t h offsets ant i t het i c t o uplift,
charact eri ze t he r esur gent st r uct ur e (Fig. 1 ).
The out fl ow facies of t he Loma Seca Tuf f
occurs as densel y welded, pl at eau-coveri ng
sheet s and as t hi ck r emnant s of flows t hat once
filled deep glacial gorges. Wi t hi n t he nor t her n
por t i on of t he caldera, Uni t V is as much as 500
m t hi ck and its base is nowhere exposed. It is
chiefly poorly welded and is overlain by no more
t han ~ 100 m of densel y wel ded Uni t S on t op
of t he resurgent dome. At dept h, wi t hi n t he
caldera, Uni t V is al most cert ai nl y densel y
welded, based on compar i son to deepl y eroded
ash-flow syst ems of si mi l ar composi t i on and
di mensi on (e.g., Fri dri ch and Mahood, 1984;
Li pman, 1984; Boden, 1986).
The hot spri ngs are geographically divisable
i nt o two groups: (1) t he Col orado hot spri ngs
t hat lie al ong a nor t h- t r endi ng arc, concave to
t he west, ski rt i ng t he base of t he r esur gent
dome; and ( 2 ) t he Puest o Calabozos group t hat
lies at t he head of Cajon los Calabozos near t he
hi nged mar gi n of t he cal dera (Fig. 1). Solfa-
taric act i vi t y occurs onl y in t he nor t her n, most
deeply eroded por t i on of t he area, at Llolli and
at Pellejo (Fig. 1 ).
Age of the hydrothermal system
No di rect evidence, such as K-Ar ages of mi n-
erals wi t hi n al t er at i on assemblages, is available
to const r ai n t he age of t he Calabozos hydro-
t her mal syst em. Several i ndi rect lines of evi-
dence suggest t hat it may be at least as old as
Uni t V, namel y 300,000 years. For i nst ance,
most of t he i nt racal dera sect i on of Uni t V is
chal ky owing to pervasi ve argillic al t erat i on by
acid leaching. The hydr ot her mal act i vi t y t hat
caused t he al t erat i on mus t have exi st ed i mme-
diately after er upt i on of Uni t V, because an
overlying i nt racal dera lava, whi ch has an indis-
t i ngui shabl e K-Ar age is locally unal t ered.
289
Ext ensi vel y al t ered rocks, i ncl udi ng Uni t S, and
fossil si nt er deposi t s associ at ed wi t h t he cald-
era st r uct ur e at t est to t he presence of hydr ot h-
ermal act i vi t y since er upt i on of Uni t S.
Whet her or not hydr ot her mal act i vi t y was
cont i nuous bet ween 0.3 and 0.15 Ma is uncer-
t ai n, but t he exi st ence of a long-lived, deep,
met eori c hydr ot her mal syst em at t he Calabo-
zos caldera is i ndi cat ed by unusual l y low Jl sO
values ofpl agi ocl ase from fresh sampl es of Uni t
S (5. 2-5. 8). These val ues are lower t han t hose
t ypi cal of silicic volcanic rocks (Tayl or, 1968)
and i ndi cat e t hat t he Uni t S magma i nt er act ed
wi t h low-j180 rocks t hat had been previ ousl y
al t ered by met eori c wat er ( Gr under , 1987).
These al t ered rocks were probabl y f or med dur-
ing vigorous hydr ot her mal act i vi t y wi t hi n t he
shat t ered, permeabl e caldera-floor rocks, aft er
er upt i on of Uni t V.
Sampling and analytical methods
A t ot al of 29 hot and cold wat er sampl es were
collected from spri ng cl ust ers in t he Calabozos
region dur i ng aust ral s ummer 1981, 1982, and
1984 ( Table 1 ). The hot t est spri ng in any given
cl ust er was sampl ed in order to r epr esent most
closely t he t her mal wat ers at dept h. All but t he
1981 sampl es were col l ect ed usi ng t he back-
packi ng met hod descri bed by Thomps on
(1975). Temper at ur e and pH were measur ed in
t he field, and spri ng discharge rates were esti-
mat ed. Temper at ur es were measur ed wi t h a
maxi mum readi ng mercury-i n-gl ass t her mom-
eter. Spri ng wat er was filtered t hr ough a 0.45-
]~m membr ane; a 125-mL al i quot was acidified
wi t h hydrochl ori c acid for cat i on analysis, and
anot her 250-mL por t i on was left unaci di fi ed for
ani on analysis. Bubbl es were observed at most
of t he t her mal spri ngs and pr esumabl y repre-
sent CO2 sat urat i on. One cold spri ng in t he Cal-
abozos group is qui t e st rongl y car bonat ed and
is r eput ed by local t r adi t i on to be a t her apeut i c
beverage. Concent r at i ons of NH3 and H2S in
sampl es col l ect ed dur i ng 1982 were measur ed
290
TABLE 1
Re pr e s e nt a t i ve anal ys es of s pr i ngs of t he Cal abozos cal der a compl ex
Locat i on: Ll ol l i Pel l ej o Pot r er i l l os Tr onc os Cas a Pi e dr a
Sout h No r t h
Spr i ng No. : LSW2 LSW20 LS Wl 0 LS Wl LSW17 LSW7
Di schar ge, L/ mi n 15 10 2000 20 3000 300
T, C 98. 5 95.5 50.5 64 50 68
Fi el d, p H 8.5 4.5 6.5 6.8 6.2 7.1
Lab, p H 9. 30 2.97 7.15 7.79 8.03 8.32
A1 ( ppb) 0.2* bl ack ~ ol i ve ~ 1.2
SiO2 582* 239 133 84 56 40
Fe <0. 05 2.8 3.8 0.8 0.1 1.3
Mn 0. 03 0. 80 0. 88 0.22 0.02 < 0.05
Ca 9 26 110 99 43 17
Mg < 0. 02 18.1 25.6 10.5 2.5 0.8
Sr 0.2 - 1.0 2.2 0.4 0.2
Ba 0.6 - 6.4 6.9 - 1.4
Na 381 34 235 207 131 191
K 56 9.3 16.2 6.6 4.5 1.9
Li 3.5 < 0. 02 1.0 0.5 0.2 0.4
Rb 0.3 0.1 0.8 < 0.02 < 0.02 0.8
Cs 0.5 0.1 0.6 <0. 02 0.2 0.5
HzS 0.2 - 0. 04 0.1 - 0. 05
NH~ 1.7 - 3.3 1.8 - 0.5
HC03 98 5.3 H 561 211 288 256
SO4 144 630 111 390 60 66
C1 549 4 196 109 49 107
F 3.8 0.1 2.3 2.9 3.1 1.0
B 14 0.9 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.8
~D - 89 - - 96 - 96 - - 96
eilSOH~ o - - 9. 8 - -- 13.5 -- 13.3 - -- 13.2
is Oso4 -- 4.5 - -- 0.2 - -- 2.8
Na / K 6.1 3.7 14.5 31.4 29.5 89.1
K/ Li 16.0 - 16.2 13.2 18.9 4.8
Na / Ca 40. 6 1.3 2.1 2.1 3.1 10.1
CI / HCO3 5.6 - 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.4
CI/SO4 3.8 0.0 1.8 0.3 0.8 1.6
Cl / B 39 4 131 182 163 134
C1/F 145 35 85 38 16 107
Anal yt i cal da t a i n p p m except A1 ( i n p p b ) . I s ot opi c da t a ar e i n s t a nda r d del t a n o t a t i o n r el at i ve t o SMOW.
Col d s pr i ngs i dent i f i ed by n a me of ne a r e s t t h e r ma l s pr i ng (Fi g. 1 ). Ri o C. = Ri o Col or ado s ampl ed ne a r Pot r er i l l os.
See Th o mp s o n (1985) f or anal yt i cal met hods : Ca, Mg, Mn, a n d Fe by a t omi c a bs or pt i on spect r oscopy; Na, K, Li, Cs, Rb,
St , a n d Ba by f l ame emi s s i on spect r oscopy; SiO2, A1, a n d B by s pe c t r ophot ome t r i c met hods . F by F- speci f i c el ect r ode; SO4
by i on c hr oma t ogr a phy; C1 a n d HCO3 by t i t r a me t r i c me t hods a n d fi el d C1 c onc e nt r a t i ons ( n o t s hown he r e ) by use of
' Qu a n t a b ' i ndi cat or s . La bor a t or y a n d fi el d CI d e t e r mi n a t i o n s ar e i n c l os e a gr e e me nt .
Ri ndi cat es t h a t t he val ue ci t ed is for aci di t y.
291
Alga Aguas Calabozos Cold springs Est i mat ed
Blanca Calientes error
Pellejo Llolli Rio C. _+
LSW8 LSWl 2 LSW23 LSWl 8 LSWl l LSW6
5000 4000 30 75 60 300 60,000 20%
39 40 78 80 22 4 10 0.5
6.3 6.2 5.9 5.9 5.9 6.0 5.7 0.1
7.63 8.22 8.47 7.97 8.29 7.67 7.54 0.05
<0.1 - _ olive s - - 20%
55 43 148 134 71 11 20 2%
0.6 0.7 2.8 6.5 10.9 - 10%
0.02* <0. 05 0.98 0.89 1.36 - 10%
21 25 127 165 217 8 3 4%
3.3 3.7 5.9 5.3 61.8 1.6 1.0 4%
0.3 0.4 1.6 1.4 1.4 - - 5%
2.0 2.0 5.3 - - 10%
116 157 488 488 193 6 18 2%
2.3 2.5 15 22 7 <0.1 1 2%
0.3 0.4 1.8 1.3 0.5 <0.1 <0.1 2%
0.3 0.3 0.7 0.2 <0.1 - - 10%
0.1 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.1 - 10%
0.05 - 0.04 0.04 - 5%
0.4 2.2 0.6 - 5%
123 326 424 144 576 26 28 2%
40 58 390 468 239 10 4 10%
80 73 531 522 23 10 32 1%
1.6 1.6 2.6 3.3 1.5 0.2 0.2 5%
0.9 1.0 2.0 2.8 0.23 1.1 0.2 10%
- 95 - 93 - 98 - - 95 - 95 1
- 13. 1 - 13. 2 - 13. 5 - - 13. 2 - 13. 6 0.1
- 0. 9 - 1. 5 - - 0.1
51 58 30 22 26 56 15
7.6 7.0 8.1 16.9 15 >12
6 6 4 3 1 1 6
0.7 0.2 1.3 3.6 0.0 0.4 1.1
2.0 1.3 1.4 1.1 0.1 1.0 8.0
89 73 266 187 98 9 160
50 46 204 158 15 56 178
*indicates t hat value is t aken from analysis of t he same spring in a different year, either because of analytical problems, or
because data is for an el ement not analyzed in 1982.
~Olive and black refer to t he color of t he oxime chelate in t he MI BK ext ract and indicate t hat high Fe 3+ cont ent in t he
water interfered wi t h t he extraction (see Afifi, 1983).
JI80 and JD det ermi nat i ons were done by C. Jani k and J. Borthwick, respectively, at t he U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo
Park. Tri t i um value of LSW2 = 0.08 0.09 Tri t i um Uni t s ( TU) and of LSW4 = 1.29 _+0.07 TU. Data from Uni versi t y of
Mi ami RSMAS Tri t i um laboratory.
292
in the field by spectrophotometry as described
by Thompson (1985). To obtain water samples
suitable for A1 analysis, selected spring waters
were filtered through a 0.1-#m membrane and
A1 was extracted following the MIBK complex-
ing method outlined by Barnes (1975) as mod-
ified by Afifi (1983). A sample for SiO2 analysis
was prepared in the field by diluting 10 mL of
spring water with 50 mL of distilled water; vol-
ume was adjusted to 100 mL in the laboratory.
From springs LSW2 and LSW4 (Table 1) one
liter samples of unfiltered water for Tritium
analysis were collected in glass bottles. The two
pilot samples collected in 1981 were plain,
untreated water samples. Representative anal-
yses are in Table 1.
Re s ul t s
Most of the Calabozos thermal waters are
very dilute (C1 < 550 ppm) and plot along the
meteoric water line of Craig (1961) (Fig. 2).
No major nor systematic differences in the
composition of thermal waters collected from
the same springs in different years are evident.
Thermal waters from the Colorado group,
excluding Llolli, commonly define composition
trends radiating from local cold waters, sug-
gesting that they are related to each other by
varying degrees of dilution of a parent hydro-
thermal water with meteoric water (Fig. 3).
- 8 8 ~ t h , e r m , a l w a t e r , ' / @ . . . . ' J
o c o l d w a i e r ~ / # L I o l I i S
( : ~ - 9 4 a l i e n t e s
~ o o 71" C a s a P ; e d r a d
P e l le e / ~ - ~ P o t r e n l l o s
- 9 8 / l ~ C a l a b o z o s
/ ~j
I 0 0 I / i I i i i i I i i
1 5 1 4 -13 -12 I I I 0
4 '80SMOW
F i g . 2. Isotopic composition of Calabozos thermal waters
and cold waters of the region. Locations in F i g . 1.
, 4 i i i i i i i i i I i
A. Li ( p p m )
L / o i l / I )
r U S l o l
P e l l e l O ,~, ~ , ; ~ ' ~ x l l
( p e / _ # ~ ~ ' ' C ~ / ~ o z o s
~ r ~ j ~ l ~ " / ( C ~ )
A , ( . I /
o c o
2 0 0 - o I , ~ L - S i l l /
I 0 0 ~ 411b" K e , I
15
IO
5
. . . . . Co ( e ' i
0 2 0 0 4 0 0 6 0 0
CI (ppm)
F i g . 3. Chemical variation diagrams for the C a l a b o z o s
hydrothermal system. Filled circles represent thermal
waters, open circles represent cold waters. Data are from
Table 1, Hildreth et al . ( 1 9 8 4 ) , Thompson et al . ( 1 9 8 3 ) ,
and this study. L - S = Ll o l l i , south bank of Rio Colorado; L -
N = north bank.
3 0 0 -
2 5 0 -
G
o
2 0 0 -
= 150-
O
~_100-
E
F- 5 0 -
L E o l l i
S N
I I I I I I I
Na-K-Ca ~ : I / 3
N a / K - ArnOrsson(1983
N a / K - Fourmer 0981)"
N a / K - E l l i s ( 1 9 7 0 )
V Qu a r t z - a d i a b a t i c
A conductive
EsO - a d i a b a t i c
~I -conductive
- continuous
X i r l f ' c e t e m p e r a t u r e c ~ ~ l ~ C :
P e l l e j o P
A
o
1 7 0 0 is'oo 1900' 2 0 0 0 ' 2 1 0 0 22'00 ' ' ' '
2 3 0 0 2 4 0 0 2 5 0 0 2 6 0 0
E l e v a t i o n ( r n )
F i g . 4. Orifice temperature and calculated subsurface tem-
peratures versus spring elevation. P = Potrerillos; C = Puesto
Calabozos; T=Troncos; A=Aguas Calientes; C P = C a s a
Piedra; A B = Al g a B l a n c a . Locations in Fi g . 1. Data are from
Table 2 and references cited in F i g . 3.
TABLE 2
Chemical geothermometry of Calabozos waters
293
Location: Llolli Pellejo
Sample: LSW2 LSW20 LSWl0
Potrerillos Troncos Casa Alga Aguas Calabozos
Piedra Blanca Calientes
LSWl LSWl7 LSW7 LSW8 LSWl2 LSW4 LSW23
Orifice temp. C 98 95 50 64 50 68 39 40 78 80
SiO2
(1) cond.-qtz 240 192 154 128 107 92 107 95 160 155
(2) max. stm-qtz 221 178 147 125 107 94 107 97 152 147
(3) chalcedony 237 173 129 100 78 61 77 65 137 130
Na/K
Fournier 252 322* 187 {136) (139) (77) (108) (102) (132) 158
Ellis 233 329* 151 (91) (95) (27) (61) (54) (86) (117)
Arn6rsson 238 * 160 101 107 - 72 60 98 126
Na-K-Ca
fl = 4/3 235 79 87 59 60 57 53 54 88 97
fl = 1/3 233 205 153 118 120 85 102 98 125 142
61s0 S04"H20
(4) conductive 280 133 144 172 148
(5) adiabatic 238 122 139 156 140
(6) continuous 250 124 139 160 141
x/'Mg-Li 351 59 67 57 65 58 47 48 83 94
Sample numbers as in Table 1.
The silica geothermometer applied according to Fournier and Rowe (1966); (1) is the value if cooling is conductive (for
springs well below boiling) and the water is in equilibrium with quartz, ( 2 ) cooling is with maximum steam loss (for springs
near boiling), and (3) the water is in equilibrium with chalcedony.
The Na/K geothermometers are after Fournier (1981), Ellis (1970), and Arn6rsson et al. (1983). *indicates ' not applicable'
because the water is acidic. Values in parentheses are below the cited limits of applicability (150 ~C). ' -' indicates the
calculated temperature < measured orifice temperature.
The Na-K-Ca geothermometer is from Fournier and Truesdell (1973).
The oxygen isotope geothermometer is taken from McKenzie and Truesdell (1977) ; (4) is the value if cooling is conductive
(best for springs below boiling, viz., all but Llolli), (5) if there is one episode of steam separation (best for springs near
boiling), and (6) if there is continuous steam loss (best for springs associated with fumaroles).
The ~- Li geothermometer is taken from Kharaka and Mariner (1987).
Pues t o Cal abozos and Llolli wat er s are t he most
concent r at ed and f or m di st i nct composi t i onal
cl ust ers. One Llolli wat er ( Sampl e LSW20) ,
whi ch was col l ect ed ami dst a bank of s t eam
vent s, has ver y low concent r at i ons of C1, B, K,
and Na ( Tabl e 1), suggest i ng t he wat er con-
densed f r om st eam. It s aci d p H and rel at i vel y
el evat ed SO4 concent r at i on are cons i s t ent wi t h
s t eam condens at i on accompani ed by oxi dat i on
of H20S t o H2SO4.
Geothermometry
Bot h meas ur ed orifice t e mpe r a t ur e s and cal-
cul at ed subsur f ace t emper at ur es of t he Colo-
rado sui t e decr ease s out hwar d as el evat i on
i ncr eases (Fig. 4) . It appear s t hat er osi on has
af f or ded a cross sect i on of a vert i cal l y, t her-
mal l y zoned hydr ot her mal syst em. Es t i mat ed
subsur f ace t emper at ur es range f r om ~ 250 t o
< 100C ( Tabl e 2) . SiO2, Na / K, Na- K- Ca, and
SO4-HeO oxygen i sot ope geot her momet er s
agree well for t he Llolli spri ng, LSW- 2 ( Tabl e
2) and i ndi cat e t he wat er came f r om a reservoi r
at ~ 250 C, whi ch cor r esponds t o t he l ower res-
ervoi r t emper at ur e es t i mat ed pr evi ousl y by
Thomps on et al. (1983). Thi s t emper at ur e is
i nt er medi at e t o val ues pr edi ct ed if cooling of t he
294
wat er dur i ng ascent is adi abat i c ( ma xi mum
st eam loss) or conduct i ve (Tabl e 2 and Fig. 4 ).
Hi gh t emper at ur es cal cul at ed wi t h t he Na / K
geot her momet er for spri ng LSW-20 may reflect
acid l eachi ng of wall rocks, whi ch makes t he
geot her momet er unreliable.
The r emai ni ng spri ngs record lower t emper-
atures, suggest i ng t hat t hey have been di l ut ed
wi t h cold wat er (Fig. 4). The Na-K-Ca geo-
t her momet er usi ng f l = 1/3 was used, as rec-
omme nde d for mi xed wat ers by Four ni er
(1981). For t he Colorado suite, t he t her mome-
ters based on SiO2 cont ent , model l ed wi t hout
st eam loss, and Na-K-Ca (fl = 1/ 3) are in good
agreement . Reservoi r t emper at ur es for t he
Puest o Calabozos group cluster bet ween 140 and
150C and do not follow t he t emper at ur e ver-
sus el evat i on t r end defi ned by t he Colorado
group. The ~M-g-Li geot her momet er of Khar-
aka and Mar i ner (1987) yields t emper at ur es
si mi l ar to measur ed orifice t emper at ur es
(except for Llolli wat er) (Tabl e 2) and sug-
gests t hat Mg cont ent in t he spri ngs is con-
t rol l ed by chemi cal react i ons near t he surface.
A model
A si mpl e model can be deri ved for t he Colo-
rado spri ngs usi ng a pl ot of ent hal py versus
chl ori de (Fig. 5 ). Fl ui d from a par ent reservoir
wi t h ent hal py of ~ 1100 J g-1 and C1 cont ent
of ~ 400 ppm evolves by boi l i ng (evaporat i ve
concent r at i on) to yield t he Llolli hot spri ngs
and by di l ut i on wi t h met eori c wat er to produce
t he t her mal spri ngs bet ween Aguas Cal i ent es
and Pot reri l l os. Such a model is suppor t ed by
t he fact t hat t he mai n Llolli spri ng (LSW-2 and
22, Tabl e 2) yields a subsurface t emper at ur e
est i mat e of appr oxi mat el y 250 C, t he t emper -
at ure i ndi cat ed by t he i nt er sect i on of t he dilu-
t i on and boi l i ng t r ends (Fig. 5). Moreover,
Llolli wat er is enr i ched in 180 relative to met eor-
ic wat er (Fig. 2), consi st ent wi t h a hi st ory of
st eam loss.
If t he Llolli wat er is in fact deri ved by boiling
from a reservoi r at 250C, t hen a mi ni mum
dept h of 500 m to t he reservoi r can be est i mat ed
"
tO steg h y p o t h e t i c o l
' " h~
I000
~= o l l i Iol l i
,,, c_[ _%/ i a i l o t i o % - , - - - d
l HII~IJ'~ ~' ~ ' ~ ~ Ca l a b o z o s
4 To.~,, '%--~:. ~,
J ~ - ~ - Pel l e}o
o
o ,5o zSo sSo 4 . 6 0 sSo 6bo
CI (ppm)
Fig. 5. Enthalpy-chloride plot of the Calabozos hydrother-
mal system, constructed according to Fournier (1979). Open
circles = cold waters, filled circles = thermal waters. Data
from Tables 1 and 2 and sources referenced in Fig. 3.
Enthalpy-temperature conversions are taken from steam
tables (Keenan et al., 1969).
from t he boiling curve of Whi t e (1968), by
assumi ng t hat t he wat ers are suffi ci ent l y di l ut e
to behave like pur e water.
The Pellejo spri ng does not fall on t he same
di l ut i on t r end as t he ot her Colorado spri ngs
(Fig. 5). We infer t hat its depar t ur e from t he
di l ut i on t r end in Fig. 5 is t he resul t of conduc-
tive cooling. It is al t ernat i vel y possible t hat t he
Pellejo wat er evolved by mi xi ng bet ween a boiled
water, like t he Llolli water, and met eori c wat er
(Fig. 5), but because its chemi cal si gnat ure
(Fig. 3) is consi st ent wi t h t he di l ut i on t r end
defi ned by t he r emai ni ng Colorado spri ngs t he
hypot hesi s of conduct i ve cooling is preferred.
The Calabozos t her mal springs, if deri ved from
t he same or a similar reservoir, represent waters
evolved largely by boi l i ng wi t h onl y a mi nor
component of di l ut i on or conduct i ve cooling.
The cons t ant ratio of Li to C1 of t he Colorado
group bears out t he di l ut i on and boi l i ng model
(Fig. 3a). Li and C1 are hi ghl y soluble el ement s
and t hei r pr opor t i on shoul d not be affect ed by
removal of st eam or addi t i on of cold wat er low
in C1 and Li. Based on t he Li/C1 t r ends t he
sout her n Colorado waters represent mi xt ures of
as much as 50% (Pellejo) to 30% (Pot reri l l os)
and to as little as 10% of hot, concent r at ed res-
ervoi r wat er wi t h cold wat er of t he region. The
Li cont ent of t he par ent reservoi r woul d be 1.9
ppm accordi ng to t hi s model. Such a hi gh Li
cont ent is consi st ent wi t h t he reservoi r wat er
havi ng i nt er act ed wi t h, or bei ng host ed in, sili-
cic volcanic rocks (Ellis and Mahon, 1977).
Composi t i onal dat a of t he Calabozos t her mal
wat ers cl ust er off of t he Li-C1 t r end, whi ch in
addi t i on to t hei r lower Jl sO and JD values, and
devi at i on from t he enthalpy-C1 t r ends (Fig. 5 ),
suggests t hat t hey are from a di fferent geo-
t her mal reservoi r t han t he Colorado t her mal
springs.
The cont ent s of B and S04 of t he Colorado
spri ngs do not follow t he si mpl e t r end defi ned
by Li versus C1 (Fig. 3 ). The Llolli spri ngs dat a
are hi gh in B wi t h respect to t he Colorado dilu-
t i on t rend, whi ch may reflect t hat t he wat er
passed t hr ough sedi ment ar y rocks (Ellis and
Mahon, 1977, p.219) ; of all t he springs, Llolli is
nearest to exposed Mesozoic sedi ment ary rocks.
The presence of gypsum near t he Llolli spri ngs
appears to have no maj or effect on t he chemi cal
composi t i on of spri ng LSW2, on t he sout her n
side of t he Rio Colorado. I n cont rast , Spri ng
LSW20 on t he nor t h bank of t he river has rel-
atively el evat ed Mg and Ca, in addi t i on to ele-
vat ed S04, whi ch may reflect t he l eachi ng of
gypsum at shallow levels by acid water. Pot rer-
illos wat er is si mi l arl y el evat ed in S04 from
whi ch it mi ght be i nferred t hat t he wat er is
i nt er act i ng wi t h gypsiferous deposi t s at dept h.
Deposi t s associ ated wi t h the spri ngs
Most of t he active spri ngs in t he Calabozos
syst em issue i nt o small pools or rivulets t hat
have banks and bot t oms coat ed wi t h orange Fe-
oxide mud. Al t er nat i ng l ami nae of mud and
carbonaceous mat eri al i ndi cat e t hat mud and
algae, whi ch are common in t he springs, repeat -
edly cover each ot her. Cal careous si nt er is
actively deposi t i ng at Tr oncos ( Fig. 1 ), and sil-
iceous si nt er and i ncrust at i ons, locally wi t h
yellow specks of nat i ve sulfur, are f or mi ng at
Llolli. Active si nt ers of bot h ki nds occur in t he
Rio Colorado faul t zone and t erraces are typi-
cally 100 m 2 and 0.5-2 m thick. Ext ensi ve banks
295
of Fe-ri ch calcareous t erraces wi t h al t er nat i ng
limonitic and hemat i t i c l ami nae are found along
faults near Pellejo (Fig. 1 ). The most common
deposi t s rel at ed to past and pr esent hydro-
t her mal act i vi t y are silicified and Fe-oxide
encr ust ed vol cani cl ast i c breccias.
Repr esent at i ve sampl es of i ncrust at i ons,
si nt ers and vari ousl y al t ered rocks were ana-
lyzed for preci ous- and base-met al s. The high-
est Au, Ag, and Hg values (0.07, 0.02, and 8.7
ppm, respect i vel y) occur in siliceous i ncrust a-
t i ons at Llolli near LSW-20. Cal ci um-carbon-
at e-coat ed crust s of Fe-oxide mud from t he
Calabozos group yi el ded > 1000 ppm As and 68
ppm Sb, but no ot her significant anomal i es were
det ect ed. The concent r at i on of t he common
met al - compl ex- f or mi ng species Cl - and S 2-
(Barnes, 1979) ( <0. 08% NaC1, and <10 -6
mol es kg -1, respect i vel y) are lower t han typi-
cal for active met al -ri ch hydr ot her mal syst ems
such as Broadl ands, New Zeal and (salinity:
>0. 37% NaC1 and $2-: 3 1 0 -5 to 5X10-4;
Weissberg, 1969), and salinities are lower t han
t hose i nferred for ore fluids in ore deposi t s
probabl y rel at ed to hot - spr i ng syst ems in t he
Great Basi n (0.2% to 7.3%; Whi t e and Hero-
poulos, 1983). Thus t he Calabozos syst em is
likely to be bar r en at shallow dept h. The
absence of hi gh met al concent r at i ons at t he
surface does not precl ude t he exi st ence of eco-
nomi c mi neral i zat i on at great er dept h because
hydr ot her mal ore deposi t s are commonl y
st rongl y vertically zoned (Whi t e, 1981 ).
Geot hermal pot ent i al and heat f l ow
The Calabozos hydr ot her mal syst em is an
at t ract i ve t ar get for geot her mal expl orat i on for
t he following reasons:
(1) The cal cul at ed reservoi r t emper at ur e
compares favorably wi t h t emper at ur es of t he
Coso geot her mal proj ect in Cal i forni a
(240-250C; Four ni er et al., 1980) and t he
Roosevel t hot spri ngs geot her mal pr ospect in
Ut ah (270 ; Capuano and Cole, 1982).
(2) The di l ut e nat ur e of t he water, t he very
296
magma chombe~
T = 8 o o o c ~ q l ~, : L
i ~ c . % ~ ' , : 5 , , o S p o i ~ e ~ :
I I t
l T L ~ - l O 0 0 C fq5 / 7 2 = 0 5 p is e t
Fig. 6. Layered model of t he Calabozos magma chamber
pri or to erupt i on of bot h Uni t V (0.30 Ma) and Uni t S
(0.15 Ma) simplified from t he dat a of Grunder (1986).
Vertical scale is arbi t rary.
reason why it is a poor prospect for mineral
exploration, would facilitate geothermal
exploitation because conduits and turbines
would not be encumbered by excessive mineral
deposition.
(3) The Calabozos caldera has collapsed at
least twice and the subsided block is likely to be
severely fractured, and is probably capped by
relatively impermeable densely welded tuff,
thereby providing a good reservoir for the
hydrothermal fluid, as at Los Humeros, Mexico
(Ferriz, 1982).
(4) Silicic magmatism and hydrothermal
activity at the Calabozos center are long-lived.
Paleo-heat flow of ~ 10 -5 cal c m - 2 s 1 at the
Calabozos caldera complex can be estimated for
the time immediately preceding eruption of
Units V and S based on a layered model of the
compositionally zoned magma chamber (Fig.
6). Composition, viscosity, density, and tem-
perature are simplified from the data of Grun-
der (1986). Assuming t hat heat transfer is only
vertical, and no heat is generated within a layer,
then, at steady state, heat flow at the surface
must equal heat flow across each horizontal
boundary. Heat transfer within the magma is
dominated by convection because the Rayleigh
number of the magma is far greater than criti-
cal if the thickness of a layer is greater than 10
m. In fact, the thickness of the magma layers is
probably on the order of 1 km, based on esti-
mated eruptive volumes of several hundred km 3.
When heat transfer within the layer is by con-
vection, heat flow can be expressed as:
\Rc}
where ~; =t hermal conductivity (5 X 10 -3 cal
cm -1 s -1 K- l ) , AT=t he temperature gra-
dient across the layer, z=l ayer thickness,
R = Rayleigh number, and Rc = the critical Ray-
leigh number= 2000 (Sleep and Langen, 1981;
Christensen, 1985). Substitution of the Ray-
leigh number:
R_z3 ATo~pg
KP
(from Bartlett, 1969; a =510 5 OK-l,
p = density, v = viscosity, g = gravitational
acceleration) results in removal of thickness as
a variable. Calculated heat flows are:
qi =4X10 - Sandq2=710 5cal cm ~s - l for
densities and viscosities summarized in Fig. 6.
Comparable heat flows, i.e. between 10 -4 and
10 5 cal c m - 2 s 1, have been measured in the
hydrothermally active Lassen and Medicine
Lake volcanic regions (Mase and Sass, 1980),
in the Long Valley caldera region ( Sorey et al.,
1978), and have been estimated by Fournier and
Pitt (1985) for the Yellowstone caldera system.
In spite of the many factors that make the
Calabozos caldera system an interesting geo-
thermal target, geothermal exploitation of the
Calabozos system is unlikely in the near future
owing to the inaccessibility of the Calabozos
caldera (40 km to the nearest road) and the
existing hydroelectric potential of the central
Chilean Andes.
Summary and concl usi on
The Calabozos hydrothermal system is asso-
ciated with voluminous, late Pleistocene, cal-
dera-related magmatism. It has been active,
perhaps intermittently, for at least as long as
300,000 years and is presently expressed as a
suite of thermal springs and steam vents issu-
ing along caldera-related structures in the Rio
Colorado fault zone. A nearby cluster of hot
springs, the Puesto Calabozos group, are chem-
ically distinct and are not directly related to the
Co l o r a d o t h e r ma l wa t e r s . T h e y ma y be r e l a t e d
t o Volc~in De s c a b e z a d o Chi co (Fi g. 1 ), t he mo s t
r e c e n t l y a c t i ve c one i n t h e i mme d i a t e vi c i ni t y
of t he Ca l a b o z o s c a l de r a .
T h e Ri o Co l o r a d o s pr i ngs c a n al l be r e l a t e d
t o one r e s e r v o i r wa t e r c o n t a i n i n g ~ 400 p p m C1
n e a r 250 C a n d a t a mi n i mu m d e p t h of 500 m.
Ho t s pr i ngs wa t e r i n t he n o r t h e r n , mo s t de e pl y
e r o d e d p a r t of t he c a l de r a s y s t e m, we r e e vol ve d
f r o m t he p a r e n t a l r e s e r v o i r b y boi l i ng; r e s e r v o i r
wa t e r di l ut e d wi t h > 5 0 % r e gi ona l me t e o r i c
wa t e r i s s ues as s pr i ngs a l o n g t h e e a s t e r n ma r -
gi n of t he r e s u r g e n t dome .
No n e of t he t h e r ma l wa t e r s n o r r e l a t e d s i n-
t e r s a n d i n c r u s t a t i o n s i n t h e Ca l a b o z o s r e gi on
h a v e s i gni f i c a nt l y e l e v a t e d me t a l c o n c e n t r a -
t i ons , so t h e a r e a is n o t a p r o mi s i n g mi n e r a l
p r o s p e c t a t s ha l l ow de pt hs . Th e di l ut e wa t e r
c o mp o s i t i o n s a n d t he hi gh c a l c u l a t e d r e s e r v o i r
t e mp e r a t u r e , c o u p l e d wi t h t he l onge vi t y of t he
s y s t e m, e a r ma r k t h e Ca l a b o z o s h y d r o t h e r ma l
s y s t e m as a n i n t e r e s t i n g g e o t h e r ma l t a r g e t t h a t
is, howe ve r , u n l i k e l y t o be e x p l o i t e d gi ven i t s
r e mo t e l oc a t i on.
Acknowledgments
We t h a n k D. S mi t h of AS ARCO I nc. f or t r a c e
me t a l a n a l y s e s o f hot s pr i ngs d e p o s i t s a n d Y.
Kh a r a k a f or he l p i n mo d e l l i n g t he wa t e r c h e m-
i st r y. Ca t h y J a n i k ki ndl y di d t h e oxyge n i so-
t opi c a na l ys e s . C. Gr u n d e r p r o v e d a n abl e
a s s i s t a n t i n c ol l e c t i ng t h e r ma l wa t e r s . Di s c us -
s i ons wi t h N. Sl e e p i mp r o v e d our u n d e r s t a n d -
i ng of c onve c t i on. T h e ma n u s c r i p t b e n e f i t e d
f r o m r e vi e ws b y C. Ba c o n , H. Fe r r i z a n d G.
Ma h o o d .
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