Anomalous N2/Ar values occur in many thermal springs and mineral springs, some volcanic fumaroles, and at least one acid-sulfate spring of the Cascade Range. Our data show that N2/Ar values are as high as 300 in gas from some of the hot springs, as high as 1650 in gas from some of the mineral springs, and as high as 2400 in gas from the acid-sulfate spring on Mt. Shasta. In contrast, gas discharging from hot springs that contain nitrogen and argon solely of atmospheric origin typically exhibits N2/Ar values of 40-80, depending on the spring temperature. If the excess nitrogen in the thermal and mineral springs is of sedimentary origin then the geothermal potential of the area must be small, but if the nitrogen is of volcanic origin then the geothermal potential must be very large. End-member excess nitrogen (??15N) is +5.3% for the thermal waters of the Oregon Cascades but is only about +1% for fumaroles on Mt. Hood and the acid-sulfate spring on Mt. Shasta. Dissolved nitrogen concentrations are highest for thermal springs associated with aquifers between 120 and 140??C. Chloride is the major anion in most of the nitrogen-rich springs of the Cascade Range, and N2/Ar values generally increase as chloride concentrations increase. Chloride and excess nitrogen in the thermal waters of the Oregon Cascades probably originate in an early Tertiary marine formation that has been buried by the late Tertiary and Quaternary lava flows of the High Cascades. The widespread distribution of excess nitrogen that has been generated in low to moderate-temperature sedimentary environments is further proof of the restricted geothermal potential of the Cascade Range. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Excess nitrogen in selected thermal and mineral springs of the Cascade Range in northern California, Oregon, and Washington: Sedimentary or volcanic in origin?