Long Valley Caldera in eastern California formed 0.76Ma ago in a cataclysmic eruption that resulted in the deposition of 600km3 of Bishop Tuff. The total current heat flow from the caldera floor is estimated to be ~290MW, and a geothermal power plant in Casa Diablo on the flanks of the resurgent dome (RD) generates ~40MWe. The RD in the center of the caldera was uplifted by ~80cm between 1980 and 1999 and was explained by most models as a response to magma intrusion into the shallow crust. This unrest has led to extensive research on geothermal resources and volcanic hazards in the caldera. Here we present results from precise, high-resolution, temperature-depth profiles in five deep boreholes (327-1,158m) on the RD to assess its thermal state, and more specifically 1) to provide bounds on the advective heat transport as a guide for future geothermal exploration, 2) to provide constraints on the occurrence of magma at shallow crustal depths, and 3) to provide a baseline for future transient thermal phenomena in response to large earthquakes, volcanic activity, or geothermal production. The temperature profiles display substantial non-linearity within each profile and variability between the different profiles. All profiles display significant temperature reversals with depth and temperature gradients <50??C/km at their bottom. The maximum temperature in the individual boreholes ranges between 124.7??C and 129.5??C and bottom hole temperatures range between 99.4??C and 129.5??C. The high-temperature units in the three Fumarole Valley boreholes are at the approximate same elevation as the high-temperature unit in borehole M-1 in Casa Diablo indicating lateral or sub-lateral hydrothermal flow through the resurgent dome. Small differences in temperature between measurements in consecutive years in three of the wells suggest slow cooling of the shallow hydrothermal flow system. By matching theoretical curves to segments of the measured temperature profiles, we calculate horizontal groundwater velocities in the hydrothermal flow unit under the RD that range from 1.9 to 2.8m/yr, which corresponds to a maximum power flowing through the RD of 3-4MW. The relatively low temperatures and large isothermal segments at the bottom of the temperature profiles are inconsistent with the presence of magma at shallow crustal levels. ?? 2010.
Additional publication details
The thermal regime in the resurgent dome of Long Valley Caldera, California: Inferences from precision temperature logs in deep wells