Modeling Heat Transfer, Fluid Circulation and Permeability Alteration in Hydrothermal Systems with Loose Coupling to Magmatic Intrusion Modeling in the Lower Crust
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The evolution of large scale hydrothermal systems entails spatially and temporally evolving permeability fields. During hydrothermal circulation, thermo-elastic stress and fluid pressure changes act upon partially open or hydrothermally altered fracture sets to modify permeability within the system, thereby shifting the patterns of circulation. To explore these interactions we are developing a thermo-hydromechanical (THM) simulator capable of coupling the dominant physics of the hydrothermal system and allowing flexibility in the use of monolithic or staggered numerical schemes. Permeability is allowed to evolve under several constitutive models tailored to both porous media and fractures, considering the influence of thermo-hydromechanical stress, creep, and elasto-plastic shear and dilation in a ubiquitously fractured medium. To expand our understanding of the long-term evolution of these systems, simulations incorporate information gleaned from the modeling of magmatic processes in the lower crust, where characteristics of the heat source are crucial in defining hydrothermal evolution. Results of a stochastic dike intrusion model are fed into the hydrothermal simulator to explore sensitivity relative to characteristics of the magmatic source. This is a first step to examining feedback mechanisms between heat transfer within geothermal fields and heat supply from the lower crust in a rigorous manner. We compare several simulations that elucidate the relative importance of magma intrusion rate and spatial distribution on overall heat transfer characteristics.