Cerro Prieto geothermal field, Mexico; chemical analyses and other data for 58 samples collected in 1977-1979

Open-File Report 95-514
Edited by: James D. Bliss



This report releases the results of selected chemical analyses by the USGS of fluids collected from geothennal power production wells at the Cerro Prieto Geothennal Field, Mexico. Cerro Prieto, the world's largest producing hot-water geothennal field, is located 32 km southeast of Mexicali, Baja California. Comision Federal de Electricidad de Mexico (CFE) gave permission for, and assisted in, sample collection. Data collection and reported analyses was made by the U.S. Geological Survey. Data collected in 1977 and 1978 where published previously by Ball and Jenne (1983) which was about half the data given here. This report also includes samples collected in 1979 which were not previously released. These activities, including this data release, are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Analyses given in the following section were made by James W. Ball and E.A. Jenne. The data have been reviewed with the assistance of Cathy Janik, USGS, Menlo Park. Some, but not all, details from Ball and Jenne (1983) concerning collection, and preservation and analytical procedures are repeated here. Nehring and Trusdell (1977) also provide an outline of some of the issues involved in the difficult task of collecting samples from geothermal wells. The initial intent of the study was to provide basic data for use in determining how these fluids should be managed either in disposal or in reinjection. Some of the hot, corrosive brines were separated as two-phase (water and steam) samples under pressure using a coiled condenser tube submerged in an ice/water mixture (called "condensed" samples). It is not known if these were total flow samples. Other samples were collected from the brine sampling valve of the separators (called "flashed" samples). Analyses given in the following section area sorted by (1) well number, (2) date, and (3) sample type(s).

Analysis was by a Spectraspan III d.c. argon plasma emission spectrometer with a Spectraject III torch (Ball and Jenne, 1983). Elements were determined in two groups using interchangeable cassettes. Group one included B, Mn, Cu, Zn, Si, Zr, Be, Mn, Sr, Ti, Ca, Fe, Ba, K, Na, Rb, and Al. Group two included As, Se, Bi, Zn, Cd, Sb, Cu, Ni, Hg, Mo, Co, Cr, Fe, V, Tl, Li, and Pb. Ball and Jenne (1983) noted that analysis of B, Ca, Mg, Ba, and Sr generally gave precise results. Movement of the plasma or grating was observed to affect sensitivity over short time periods even while the instrument was carefully standardized and optimized. Sensitivity was also a function of sample concentration. All samples at the time of analysis contained a white precipitate (perhaps colloidal silica) thus the reported concentrations may not accurately represent the concentrations present at the time of collection (Ball and Jenne, 1983). Additional details about specific elements are given in the section on "Evaluation of data" (Bliss, this volume) following the data table.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Cerro Prieto geothermal field, Mexico; chemical analyses and other data for 58 samples collected in 1977-1979
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 95-514
DOI 10.3133/ofr95514
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description iii, 75 p.
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