Thermal and petrologic constraints on the lower crustal melt accumulation in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Heat transfer in active volcanic areas is governed by complex coupling between tectonic and magmatic processes. These two processes provide unique imprints on the petrologic and thermal evolution of magma by controlling the geometry, depth, longevity, composition, and fraction of melt in the crust. The active volcanism, tectonic extension, and significantly high surface heat flow in Salton Sea Geothermal Field, CA, provides information about the dynamic heat transfer processes in its crust. The volcanism in the area is associated with tectonic extension over the last 500 ka, followed by subsidence and sedimentation at the surface level and dike emplacement in the lower crust. Although significant progress has been made describing the tectonic evolution and petrology of the erupted products of the Salton Buttes, their coupled control on the crustal heat transfer and feedback on the melt evolution remain unclear. To address these concepts, we develop a two-dimensional finite volume model and investigate the compositional and thermal evolution of the melt and crust in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field through a one-way coupled thermal model that accounts for tectonic extension, lower crustal magma emplacement, sedimentation, and subsidence. Through our simulations, we give quantitative estimates to the thermal and compositional evolution and longevity of the lower crustal melt source in the crustal section. We further compare the model results with petrologic constraints. Our thermal balance equations show that crustal melting is limited and the melt is dominated by mantle-derived material. Similarly, petrologic work on δ18O isotope ratios suggests fractional crystallization of basalt with minor crustal assimilation. In addition, we suggest scenarios for the melt fraction, composition, enthalpy release, geometry and depth of magma reservoirs, their temporal evolution, and the timescales of magmatic storage and evolution processes. These parameters provide the source conditions for the dynamics of surface volcanism and the presence of a geothermal system, which modify the thermal and mechanical structure of the crust.