Temperature data from wells in Long Valley Caldera, California

Data Series 523

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The 30-by-20-km Long Valley Caldera (LVC) in eastern California (fig.1) formed at 0.76 Ma in a cataclysmic eruption that resulted in the deposition of 600 km? of Bishop Tuff outside the caldera rim (Bailey, 1989). By approximately 0.6 Ma, uplift of the central part of the caldera floor and eruption of rhyolitic lava formed the resurgent dome. The most recent eruptive activity in the area occurred approximately 600 yr ago along the Mono-Inyo craters volcanic chain (Bailey, 2004; Hildreth, 2004). LVC hosts an active hydrothermal system that includes hot springs, fumaroles, mineral deposits, and an active geothermal well field and power plant at Casa Diablo along the southwestern boundary of the resurgent dome (Sorey and Lewis, 1976; Sorey and others, 1978; Sorey and others, 1991). Electric power generation began in 1985 with about 10 Mwe net capacity and was expanded to about 40 Mwe (net) in 1991 (Campbell, 2000; Suemnicht and others, 2007). Plans for further expansion are focused mainly on targets in the caldera?s western moat (Sass and Priest, 2002) where the most recent volcanic activity has occurred (Hildreth, 2004). LVC has been the site of extensive research on geothermal resources and volcanic hazards (Bailey and others, 1976; Muffler and Williams, 1976; Miller and others, 1982; Hill and others 2002). The first geothermal exploratory drilling was done in the shallow (< 200 m deep) hydrothermal system at Casa Diablo in the 1960?s (McNitt, 1963). Many more boreholes were drilled throughout the caldera in the 1970?s and 1980?s by private industry for geothermal exploration and by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Sandia National Laboratory for volcanic and geothermal research and exploration. Temperature logs were obtained in some of these wells during or immediately following drilling, before thermal equilibration was complete. Most of the temperature logs, however, were obtained weeks, months, or years after well completion and are representative of dynamic thermal equilibrium. The maximum reservoir temperature for LVC is estimated to be about 220?C on the basis of chemical geothermometers (Fournier and Truesdell, 1973) using analytical results from water samples collected from a large number of wells and springs across the caldera and around its periphery (Lewis, 1974; Mariner and Wiley, 1976; Farrar and others, 1985, 1987, 1989, White and Peterson, 1991). The deepest well in LVC (~3 km) is the Long Valley Exploratory Well (LVEW) drilled in the 1990?s with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to investigate the potential for near-magmatic-temperature energy extraction and the occurrence of magma under the central part of the resurgent dome (Finger and Eichelberger, 1990; Finger and Jacobsen, 1999; Sackett and others, 1999). However, temperatures beneath the resurgent dome have proved disappointingly low and in LVEW reach a maximum of only 102 degrees C in a long isothermal section (2,100 to 3,000 m) in Mesozoic basement rocks (Farrar and others, 2003). Temperature data from well logs and geothermometry reveal that the highest temperatures in LVC are beneath the western moat. The hottest temperatures measured in LVC exceed 200 degrees C in two wells (44-16 and RDO-8) located in the western moat. Well 44-16 was drilled through the entire thickness of post-caldera volcanic fill and bottomed in Mesozoic basement. Well RDO-8 was drilled through post-caldera volcanic rocks and 305 m into the Bishop Tuff (Wollenberg and others, 1986). Temperatures in the hydrothermal system decrease toward the east by processes of conduction and dilution from cold groundwater recharge that occurs mostly around the caldera margin and beneath the resurgent dome. Reservoir temperatures at Casa Diablo (fig.1) are about 170?C (for example, MBP-3 and Mammoth-1), decreasing to about 100 degrees C in wells near Hot Creek Gorge (for example, MW-4 and CH-10B), and are generally less than 50?C in thermal springs near Lake

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Temperature data from wells in Long Valley Caldera, California
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U.S. Geological Survey
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Water Resources National Research Program
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