We assess the role of fracturing and seismicity on fluid-driven mass transport of helium using groundwaters from the eastern Morongo Basin (EMB), California, USA. The EMB, located ???200 km east of Los Angeles, lies within a tectonically active region known as the Eastern California Shear Zone that exhibits both strike-slip and extensional deformation. Helium concentrations from 27 groundwaters range from 0.97 to 253.7 ?? 10-7 cm3 STP g-1 H2O, with corresponding 3He/4He ratios falling between 1.0 and 0.26 RA (where RA is the 3He/4He ratio of air). All groundwaters had helium isotope ratios significantly higher than the crustal production value of ???0.02 RA. Dissolved helium concentrations were resolved into components associated with solubility equilibration, air entrainment, in situ production within the aquifer, and extraneous fluxes (both crustal and mantle derived). All samples contained a mantle helium-3 (3Hem) flux in the range of 4.5 to 1351 ?? 10-14 cm3 STP 3He cm-2 yr-1 and a crustal flux (J0) between 0.03 and 300 ?? 10-7 cm3 STP 4He cm-2 yr-1. Groundwaters from the eastern part of the basin contained significantly higher 3Hem and deep crustal helium-4 (4Hedc) concentrations than other areas, suggesting a localized source for these components. 4Hedc and 3Hem are strongly correlated, and are associated with faults in the basin. A shallow thermal anomaly in a >3,000 m deep graben in the eastern basin suggests upflow of fluids through active faults associated with extensional tectonics. Regional tectonics appears to drive large scale crustal fluid transport, whereas episodic hydrofracturing provides an effective mechanism for mantle-crust volatile transport identified by variability in the magnitude of degassing fluxes (3Hem and J0) across the basin. Copyright ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd.
Additional publication details
Source and movement of helium in the eastern Morongo groundwater Basin: The influence of regional tectonics on crustal and mantle helium fluxes