A Blind Hydrothermal System in an Ocean Island Environment: Humu'ula Saddle, Hawaii Island
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
A recently drilled groundwater investigation borehole, drilled to a depth of 1760 m in the Humu’ula Saddle of Hawaii Island, encountered an unexpectedly high temperature gradient of more than 160 ̊C/km. Although prior MT surveys across the region identified conductive formations of modest extent in the region, there were few surface manifestations of geologic structures likely to host a geothermal system and no evidence of an active, extensive hydrothermal system. Cores recovered from the borehole showed the presence of intrusive formations and moderate hydrothermal alteration at depth with progressive infilling of fractures and vesicles with depth and temperature. Independent modeling of gravity data (Flinders et al., 2013) suggests the presence of a broad intrusive complex within the region that is consistent with the borehole’s confirmation of a high-elevation (~1400 m amsl) regional water table. A subsequent MT survey covering much of the western Saddle region has confirmed the presence of highly conductive conditions, consistent with thermal activity, to depths of 4 km and greater. Light stable isotope data for the borehole fluids indicate that the regional water table is derived from recharge from the upper elevations of Mauna Kea; major element chemistry indicates that formation temperatures exceed 200 ̊C. A conceptual model of the hydrothermal system, along with isotopic and fluid chemistry of the thermal fluids will be presented.