Circulation times of waters in geothermal systems are poorly known. In this study, we examine the thermal waters of the Idaho batholith to verify whether maximum system temperatures, helium concentrations, and 14C values are related to water age in these low-to-moderate temperature geothermal systems. He/N2 values of gas collected from thermal waters that circulate solely through distinct units of the Idaho batholith correlate linearly with Na-K-(4/3)Ca geothermometer temperatures, showing that both variables are excellent indicators of relative water age. Thermal waters that circulate in early Tertiary (45-50 Ma) granite of the Sawtooth batholith have 3.5 times more helium than thermal waters of the same aquifer temperature that circulate through the main Cretaceous granite (average 91 Ma). Hot spring waters circulating in hydrothermally altered parts of the batholith have very little dissolved helium and no correlation between He/N2 values and geothermometer temperatures. Thermal waters discharging from the Idaho batholith are more depleted in deuterium than modern precipitation in the area. Recharge to these geothermal systems occurred from at least 10,000 BP for the cooler systems up to about 33,000 BP for the hotter systems.
Additional publication details
Comparison of circulation times of thermal waters discharging from the Idaho batholith based on geothermometer temperatures, helium concentrations, and 14C measurements