Multiphase groundwater flow near cooling plutons

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By:  and 



We investigate groundwater flow near cooling plutons with a computer program that can model multiphase flow, temperatures up to 1200°C, thermal pressurization, and temperature‐dependent rock properties. A series of experiments examines the effects of host‐rock permeability, size and depth of pluton emplacement, single versus multiple intrusions, the influence of a caprock, and the impact of topographically driven groundwater flow. We also reproduce and evaluate some of the pioneering numerical experiments on flow around plutons. Host‐rock permeability is the principal factor influencing fluid circulation and heat transfer in hydrothermal systems. The hottest and most steam‐rich systems develop where permeability is of the order of 10−15 m2. Temperatures and life spans of systems decrease with increasing permeability. Conduction‐dominated systems, in which permeabilities are ≤10−16 m2, persist longer but exhibit relatively modest increases in near‐surface temperatures relative to ambient conditions. Pluton size, emplacement depth, and initial thermal conditions have less influence on hydrothermal circulation patterns but affect the extent of boiling and duration of hydrothermal systems. Topographically driven groundwater flow can significantly alter hydrothermal circulation; however, a low‐permeability caprock effectively decouples the topographically and density‐driven systems and stabilizes the mixing interface between them thereby defining a likely ore‐forming environment.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Multiphase groundwater flow near cooling plutons
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/97JB00552
Volume 102
Issue 6
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 12235
Last page 12252
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