We present chemical and isotopic data for fluids, minerals and rocks from the Long Valley meteoric-hydrothermal system. The samples encompass the presumed hydrothermal upwelling zone in the west moat of the caldera, the Casa Diablo geothermal field, and a series of wells defining a nearly linear, ∼16 km long, west-to-east trend along the likely fluid flow path. Fluid samples were analyzed for the isotopes of water, Sr, and Ca, the concentrations of major cations and anions, alkalinity, and total CO2. Water isotope data conform to trends documented in earlier studies, interpreted as indicating a single hydrothermal fluid mixing with local groundwater. Sr isotopes show subtle changes along the flow path, which requires rapid fluid flow and minimal reaction between the channelized fluids and the wallrocks. Sr and O isotopes are used to calculate fracture spacing using a dual porosity model. Calculated fracture spacing and temperature data for hydrothermal fluids indicate the system is (approximately) at steady-state. Correlated variations among total CO2, and the concentration and isotopic composition of Ca suggest progressive fluid degassing (loss of CO2), which drives calcite precipitation as the fluid flows west-to-east and cools. The shifts in Ca isotopes require that calcite precipitated at temperatures of 150–180 °C is fractionated by ca. −0.3‰ to −0.5‰ relative to aqueous species. Our data are the first evidence that Ca isotopes undergo kinetic fractionation at high temperatures (>100 °C) and can be used to trace calcite precipitation along hydrothermal fluid flow paths.
Additional publication details
Ca, Sr, O and D isotope approach to defining the chemical evolution of hydrothermal fluids: example from Long Valley, CA, USA