Temporal Chemical Variations during the Eruption Cycle at Crystal Geyser in Green River, Utah: Inverse Modeling of Fluid Sourcing and Implications to the Geyser Mechanism

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Zachary T Watson1, Weon Shik Han1, Niko Kampman2, Timothy Grundl1 and Kyungdoe Han1, (1)University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, United States, (2)University of Lancaster, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster, United Kingdom
The most well-known example of a CO2-driven geyser is Crystal geyser in Green River, Utah. In situ monitoring of pressure and temperature and analysis of the elemental and isotopic composition of the emanating fluids has provided useful proxies for determining the geysering cycle, the source of water/CO2 and furthermore the physical constraints at depth which ultimately control the surficial expressions. Crystal geyser is the first geyser in the world which has been shown to go through repeated systematic chemical variations during its eruption cycle. The eruption cycle at Crystal geyser is comprised of 4 parts which follow the order of: minor eruption period (mEP), major eruption period (MEP), aftershock eruptions (Ae) and recharge period (R). Minor eruption periods are characterized by increasing specific conductivity (19.3 to 21.2 mS/cm), Na and Cl concentrations during the first half which plateau until the MEP. The beginning of the MEP denotes a sharp drop in temperature (17.4 to 16.8 ºC) Na, Cl, specific conductivity (21.2 to 18 mS/cm), and increasing concentrations of Fe, Sr, Ca, Mg and Mn. Downhole fluid sampling of the Entrada Sandstone and Navajo Sandstone provided 1 and 4 samples from the aquifers, respectively. The Entrada Sandstone in comparison to the deeper Navajo Sandstone has elevated concentrations of Sr and Fe and has lower concentrations of Na and Cl. Inverse modeling using the chemical characteristics of the Entrada Sandstone, Navajo Sandstone and brine was executed to determine the fractional inputs which comprise Crystal geyser’s fluid. Variances in the fractional contribution are dependent on the depth of the sample chosen to be representative of the Navajo Sandstone because the concentration of Na and Cl, among other elements, changes over depth. During the mEP the Navajo Sandstone, Entrada Sandstone and brine supply 50-55%, 44-48% and 1-3% of the total fluid, respectively. During the MEP the Navajo Sandstone, Entrada Sandstone and brine supply 39-43%, 56-59% and 1-2%, respectively. The results imply that the type of geysering seen at the surface is a function of the physical hydrologic characteristics of the supplying formations.