In order to study magmatism and geothermal systems in The Geysers-Clear Lake region, we developed a detailed three-dimensional tomographic velocity model based on local earthquakes. This high-resolution model resolves the velocity structure of the crust in the region to depths of approximately 12 km. The most significant velocity contrasts in The Geysers-Clear Lake region occur in the steam production area, where high velocities are associated with a Quaternary granitic pluton, and in the Mount Hannah region, where low velocities occur in a 5-km-thick section of Mesozoic argillites. In addition, a more regional tomographic model was developed using traveltimes from earthquakes covering most of northern California. This regional model sampled the whole crust, but at a lower resolution than the local model. The regional model outlines low velocities at depths of 8-12 km in The Geysers-Clear Lake area, which extend eastward to the Coast Range thrust. These low velocities are inferred to be related to unmetamorphosed Mesozoic sedimentary rocks. In addition, the regional velocity model indicates high velocities in the lower crust beneath the Clear Lake volcanic field, which we interpret to be associated with mafic underplating. No large silicic magma chamber is noted in either the local or regional tomographic models. A three-dimensional gravity model also has been developed in the area of the tomographic imaging. Our gravity model demonstrates that all density contrasts can be accounted for in the upper 5-7 km of the crust. Two-dimensional magnetotelluric models of data from a regional, east-west profile indicate high resistivities associated with the granitic pluton in The Geysers production area and low resistivities in the low-velocity section of Mesozoic argillites near Mount Hannah. No indication of midcrustal magma bodies is present in the magnetotelluric data. On the basis of heat flow and geologic evidence, Holocene intrusive activity is thought to have occurred near the Northwest Geysers, Mount Hannah, Sulphur Bank Mine, and perhaps other areas. The geophysical data provide no conclusive evidence for such activity, but the detailed velocity model is suggestive of intrusive activity near Mount Hannah similar to that in the 'felsite' of The Geysers production area. The geophysical models, seismicity patterns, distribution of volcanic vents, heat flow, and other data indicate that small, young intrusive bodies that were injected along a northeast trend from The Geysers to Clear Lake probably control the thermal regime.
Additional publication details
Tectonic controls on magmatism in the Geysers-Clear Lake region: Evidence from new geophysical models