Hydrothermal alteration mineralogy of SOH drill holes, Kilauea East Rift Zone geothermal area, Hawaii

Open-File Report 96-10
By: , and 



Thirty-eight hydrothermal minerals were identified from 356 drill-core specimens that were obtained from three Scientific Observation Holes (SOH-1, SOH-2, and SOH-4) drilled along the lower East Rift Zone (ERZ) of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. The minerals formed during alteration of basaltic rocks and glass by hot, circulating, waters in aquifers consisting of variable mixtures of meteoric water and sea water. Several zeolites, hydrated calcium silicates, carbonates, clays, silicates, sulfates, sulfides, and other minerals were found filling open spaces of vesicles, fractures, and between breccia fragments of the recovered drill core; many specimens that originally consisted of glass are completely altered to some of these minerals, especially clays. Several hydrothermal minerals (erionite, mordenite, truscottite, smectite, chlorite-smectite, chalcedony, anhydrite, and hematite), occur in the SOH drill holes at higher measured temperatures than the same minerals are found in geothermal drill holes of Iceland or other geothermal areas, suggesting that temperatures within the ERZ geothermal system have increased since the minerals formed. Fluid-inclusion freezing data for quartz, anhydrite, and calcite from the three SOH holes show that composition of the inclusion fluids ranges from dilute meteoric water to highly modified sea water concentrated by boiling. Comparison of measured drill-hole temperatures with fluid-inclusion homogenization-temperature data indicates that only about 15% of the fluid inclusions could have formed under the present thermal conditions. The majority of fluid inclusions studied apparently formed during one or more temperature fluctuations associated with the emplacement of nearby dikes and their subsequent cooling.

Bacteria-like particles at 1734.6 m depth in SOH-4 could be very significant because the particles occurred at much hotter temperatures (about 265°C) than the generally accepted 110°C limit for survival of bacteria. The presence of Cl in the particles suggests that they might have lived in a saline environment and did not result from contamination by the fresh water drilling fluids. We reccomend that future drilling and subsequent handling of drill hole specimens in the ERZ and elsewhere employ controls to minimize and(or) recognize bacterial contamination.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrothermal alteration mineralogy of SOH drill holes, Kilauea East Rift Zone geothermal area, Hawaii
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 96-10
DOI 10.3133/ofr9610
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 75 p.
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