Informace o publikaci

Fluid geochemistry of the Los Humeros geothermal field (LHGF - Puebla, Mexico): New constraints for the conceptual model


LELLI Matteo KRETZSCHMAR Thomas Gunter CABASSI Jacopo DOVERI Marco SANCHEZ AVILA Juan Ignacio GHERARDI Fabrizio MAGRO Gabriella NORELLI Francesco

Rok publikování 2021
Druh Článek v odborném periodiku
Časopis / Zdroj Geothermics
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Přírodovědecká fakulta

Klíčová slova Fluid geochemistry; Chemical and isotopic characterization; Groundwater flow paths; Geothermal exploration; Conceptual model; Los Humeros geothermal field
Popis Geothermal power in Mexico is mainly produced in four geothermal fields operated by the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE): Cerro Prieto, Los Azufres, Los Humeros, and Las Tres Virgenes. The Los Humeros Geothermal Field (LHGF) is ranked third in terms of generated capacity, and in the last decade its installed capacity has doubled (up to 95.0 MW). Further increases in the geothermal power generation capacity in Mexico are planned, and thus the LHGF warrants further examination. The development and growth phases of any geothermal project must start from an awareness of the conceptual model of the natural system studied. The recharge mechanism, feeding zones, and fluid flow-path must be identified, along with the estimation of the temperature at the productive level and of phase separation (liquid - steam). To accomplish this, detailed fluid geochemical surveys were carried out in June 2017 and March 2018, in which 57 and 87 samples were collected, respectively, from cold and thermal springs, water wells and maar lakes located around and inside the LHGF. Samples from fumaroles inside the producing area were also collected for the first time, together with fluid from re-injection wells. The presence of a meteoric component, which plays an important role at the regional scale, is confirmed by the chemical and isotope data, and its contribution in terms of recharge may be higher than previously assumed. The Sierra Madre Oriental, on the west side of the LHGF, is characterized by widespread outcrops of limestone belonging to the same geological formation as those at the bottom of the LHGF. The isotope composition (delta D and delta O-18, respectively -77.3 parts per thousand and -10.50 parts per thousand for the hypothetical Infiltration Water IW) is similar to that observed in cold springs located in the Sierra Madre Oriental, and from this the evolution of isotopes in the liquid-rock-steam system during water-rock interaction and phase separation processes can be modelled. Thus, the experimental data obtained for natural gas emissions (fumarolic condensates) and for geothermal fluids can be reproduced. These findings suggest that geothermal fluids in the LHGF are likely to be derived from meteoric water infiltrating (IW) the limestone outcrops of the Sierra Madre Oriental. During their flow-path, the infiltrating waters exchange isotopes at a high temperature with the crustal rocks, which have a much higher O-18/O-16 ratio, resulting in a shift towards higher delta O-18 (-4.35 parts per thousand +/- 1) as the water O exchanges with rock O. The vapor phase can be separated from this deep water (DW) and it is discharged from the fumarolic effluents of Loma Blanca. Single Step Vapor Separation (SSVS) and Continuous Steam Separation processes (CSS) were modelled using stable isotopes of water. The results of geochemical modeling agree with available data for geothermal liquids discharged from several geothermal wells, suggesting that steam separation may be interpreted either as SSVS or CSS. Other processes can affect the chemistry and isotope composition of geothermal fluids (e.g. phase segregation, gas exchange, contributions from magmatic-volcanic deep fluids and re-injection fluids). The proposed conceptual model is consistent with both the geochemical data and the geological setting, and provides a useful point of reference for examining the fluid flow-path and geochemical processes active in the LHGF, at least at a general level. An involvement of magmatic-volcanic deep fluids in the feeding mechanism of the geothermal system cannot be excluded at priori, but the regional meteoric end-member is supported by the data and it seems the most important component.

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