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Determining the circulation depth of thermal springs in the southern Rocky Mountain Trench, south-eastern British Columbia, Canada using geothermometry and borehole temperature logs

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Geochemical data for thermal spring waters along the southern Rocky Mountain Trench in British Columbia, Canada were examined. The range of equilibration temperatures for the thermal springs is between 24 and 59°C, assuming that there is minimal mixing with colder shallow waters that might lead to a lowering of the calculated equilibration temperature. The chalcedony geothermometer is found to be the most appropriate given the carbonate host rocks. Temperature logs from 11 boreholes in the vicinity were used to calculate representative geothermal gradients, which range from 23.8 to 55.7°C/km with an average of 24.8±8.0°C/km. Using the average gradient and the range of equilibration temperatures calculated for each spring, the minimum range for the depth of origin of the thermal waters is 0.9–2.2 km. Heat flow values range from 90.3 to 155 mW/m2, with an average of 109.1±21.0 mW/m2. The moderate to high heat flow and heat generation result in generally higher temperatures at shallow depths, thus offering an explanation for the occurrence of thermal springs. The alignment of the thermal springs likely relates to the preferred northwest–southeast orientation for major thrust faults along the Rocky Mountain Trench, and with waters routed from depth along deep faults.

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