Metal fluxing in a large-scale intra-arc fault: insights from the Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault System (LOFS) and associated geothermal fields in southern Chile

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Daniele Tardani1, Martin Reich1, Yuji Sano2, Naoto Takahata2, Hsinyi Wen3, Emilie Roulleau1, Pablo Sanchez-Alfaro1, José-María González-Jiménez1, Hiroshi Shinohara4, Tsanyao F Yang5, Jose M Cembrano6 and Gloria Arancibia6, (1)University of Chile, Department of Geology and Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence (CEGA), Santiago, Chile, (2)University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Japan, (3)Department of Geoscience, National Taiwan University, Department of Geoscience, Taipei, Taiwan, (4)Geological Survey Japan AIST, Tsukuba, Japan, (5)NTU National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, (6)Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
In compressional and extensional settings, high-enthalpy geothermal systems and epithermal vein deposits are genetically linked to shallow magmatic reservoirs, overlying hydrothermal circulation cells, and structural meshes that permit vertical migration of fluids. In the Andean Cordillera of Central-Southern Chile, the nature of the relationship between tectonics and volcanism is the result of interaction between the crustal structures and the regional stress field. Between 37° and 46°S, the volcanic and geothermal activity is controlled by the NNE-trending, 1,200 km long LOFS, an intra-arc dextral strike-slip fault system, associated with second-order intra-arc anisotropies of overall NE-SW and NW-SE orientation. Although there is consensus that volcanism in this segment are controlled by the regional scale tectonic stress field, the structural controls on magma degassing and metal fluxing remains poorly constrained.

The goal of the study is to constrain the first-order controls on fluxes of noble metals (Au, Ag, PGEs), base metals (Cu, Zn, Pb) and metalloids (As, Sb, Se) along this segment. For this purpose we collected fumarole and thermal water samples from five selected volcanic-geothermal systems along the northern termination of the LOFS. The selected areas are characterized by the occurrence of surface manifestations and are located along NNE-oriented or NWN-oriented fault systems. In each location, the trace metal budget and isotopic composition of fumaroles and springs were constrained along with cations, anions and dissolved gaseous species.

The helium isotopic ratios of fumaroles, defined as R/Ra, range between 3.5 and 7.5 in the studied segment. High R/Ra, mantle-like signatures are associated with geothermal manifestations occurring along NNE-trending faults, whereas lower R/Ra values in NWN-oriented systems most likely represent mixing between mantle and crustal sources. Concentrations of Au, Cu and As are significant in selected geothermal wells along NWN-faults (1.5 ppb, 8 ppb and 25 ppm, respectively), while measured concentrations of PGEs in fumaroles are detectable (between 0.6 and 14 ppt of Pt, Pd, Rh and Ir) along both NWE and NNE-trending structures.

This study point out towards provide new insights about large-scale metal fluxing along an active intra-arc fault system.