A survey of diffuse CO2 efflux, soil temperature and soil-gas chemistry over areas of localized vegetation-kill on and around the resurgent dome of Long Valley caldera California was performed to evaluate the premise that gaseous and thermal anomalies are related to renewed intrusion of magma. Some kill sites are long-lived features and others have developed in the past few years. Total anomalous CO2 emissions from the thirteen areas average around 8.7 t per day; but the majority of the emissions come from four sites west of the Casa Diablo geothermal power plant. Geochemical analyses of the soil-gases from locations west and east of the plant revealed the presence of isobutane related to plant operations. The ??13C values of diffuse CO2 range from -5.7??? to -3.4???, similar to values previously reported for CO2 from hot springs and thermal wells around Long Valley. At many of the vegetation-kill sites soil temperatures reach boiling at depths ???20 cm. Soil temperature/depth profiles at two of the high-emissions areas indicate that the conductive thermal gradient in the center of the areas is around 320 ??C m-1. We estimate total heat loss from the two areas to be about 6.1 and 2.3 MW. Given current thinking on the rate of hydrothermal fluid flow across the caldera and using the CO2 concentration in the thermal fluids, the heat and CO2 loss from the kill areas is easily provided by the shallow hydrothermal system, which is sourced to the west of the resurgent dome. We find no evidence that the development of new areas of vegetation kill across the resurgent dome are related to new input of magma or magmatic fluids from beneath the resurgent dome. Our findings indicate that the areas have developed as a response to changes in the shallow hydrologic system. Some of the changes are likely related to fluid production at the power plant, but at distal sites the changes are more likely related to seismicity and uplift of the dome.
Additional publication details
Carbon dioxide emissions from vegetation-kill zones around the resurgent dome of Long Valley caldera, eastern California, USA