Quaternary volcanic unrest has provided heat for episodic hydrothermal circulation in the Long Valley caldera, including the present-day hydrothermal system, which has been active over the past 40 kyr. The most recent period of crustal unrest in this region of east-central California began around 1980 and has included periods of intense seismicity and ground deformation. Uplift totaling more than 0.7 m has been centered on the caldera's resurgent dome, and is best modeled by a near-vertical ellipsoidal source centered at depths of 6-7 km. Modeling of both deformation and microgravity data now suggests that (1) there are two inflation sources beneath the caldera, a shallower source 7-10 km beneath the resurgent dome and a deeper source ???15 km beneath the caldera's south moat and (2) the shallower source may contain components of magmatic brine and gas. The Long Valley Exploration Well (LVEW), completed in 1998 on the resurgent dome, penetrates to a depth of 3 km directly above this shallower source, but bottoms in a zone of 100??C fluid with zero vertical thermal gradient. Although these results preclude extrapolations of temperatures at depths below 3 km, other information obtained from flow tests and fluid sampling at this well indicates the presence of magmatic volatiles and fault-related permeability within the metamorphic basement rocks underlying the volcanic fill. In this paper, we present recently acquired data from LVEW and compare them with information from other drill holes and thermal springs in Long Valley to delineate the likely flow paths and fluid system properties under the resurgent dome. Additional information from mineralogical assemblages in core obtained from fracture zones in LVEW documents a previous period of more vigorous and energetic fluid circulation beneath the resurgent dome. Although this system apparently died off as a result of mineral deposition and cooling (and/or deepening) of magmatic heat sources, flow testing and tidal analyses of LVEW water level data show that relatively high permeability and strain sensitivity still exist in the steeply dipping principal fracture zone penetrated at a depth of 2.6 km. The hydraulic properties of this zone would allow a pressure change induced at distances of several kilometers below the well to be observable within a matter of days. This indicates that continuous fluid pressure monitoring in the well could provide direct evidence of future intrusions of magma or high-temperature fluids at depths of 5-7 km. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Inferences on the hydrothermal system beneath the resurgent dome in Long Valley Caldera, east-central California, USA, from recent pumping tests and geochemical sampling