The hydrothermal systems of the Basin and Range Province are often located at or near major range bounding normal faults. The flow of fluid and energy at these faults is affected by the advective transfer of heat and fluid from an to the adjacent mountain ranges and valleys, This paper addresses the effect of the exchange of fluid and energy between the country rock, the valley fill sediments, and the fault zone, on the fluid and heat flow regimes at the fault plane. For comparative purposes, the conditions simulated are patterned on Leach Hot Springs in southern Grass Valley, Nevada. Our simulations indicated that convection can exist at the fault plane even when the fault is exchanging significant heat and fluid with the surrounding country rock and valley fill sediments. The temperature at the base of the fault decreased with increasing permeability of the country rock. Higher groundwater discharge from the fault and lower temperatures at the base of the fault are favored by high country rock permabilities and fault transmissivities. Preliminary results suggest that basal temperatures and flow rates for Leach Hot Springs can not be simulated with a fault 3 km deep and an average regional heat flow of 150 mW/m2 because the basal temperature and mass discharge rates are too low. A fault permeable to greater depths or a higher regional heat flow may be indicated for these springs.
Additional publication details
Modeling fluid flow and heat transfer at Basin and Range faults: preliminary results for Leach hot springs, Nevada