Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Pérez-Flores P., Veloso E., Cembrano J., Sánchez-Alfaro P., Lizama M. and Arancibia G. (2017)

Fracture network, fluid pathways and paleostress at the Tolhuaca geothermal field

Revista : Journal of Structural Geology
Volumen : 96
Páginas : 134-148
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


In this study, we examine the fracture network of the Tolhuaca geothermal system located in the Southern Andean volcaniczone that may have acted as a pathway for migration and ascent of deep-seated fluids under the far/local stressfield conditions of the area. We measured the orientation, slip-data and mineralogical content of faults and veins recoveredon a ca. 1000 m deep borehole (Tol-1) located in the NW-flank of the Tolhuaca volcano. Tol-1 is a non-oriented,vertical borehole that recovered relatively young (>1 Ma) basaltic/andesitic volcanic rocks with subordinate pyroclastic/volcanoclastic interbedded units of Pleistocene age. Here, we examined and measured the inclination, geometry, texture,mineralogy, and relative sense of displacement of veins and faults. To determine the azimuthal orientation of fault andveins we reoriented 66 segments (89 standard mini-cores) of Tol-1 using stable Characteristic remanent magnetizationcomponent (ChRM) obtained by thermal demagnetization methodology. Paleo-declination of ChRM vectors was used tore-orient the borehole pieces, as well as fault and veins, to a common anchor orientation value consistent with the GeocentricAxial Dipole approximation (GAD). Inversion of RM-corrected fault-slip data reveals a local tensional stress fieldwith a vertically oriented σ1 axis (083/74) and a subhorizontal, NS-trending σ3 axis (184/03). Within the topmost 400 mof the borehole, faults and veins are randomly oriented, whereas below 400 m depth, faults and veins show preferentialNE-to EW-strikes and steep (>50°) dips. The EW-striking veins are compatible with the calculated local stress fieldwhereas NE-striking veins are compatible with the regional stress field, the morphological elongation of volcanic centers,alignments of flank vents and dike orientation. Our results demonstrate that the paleomagnetic methodology proved tobe reliable and it is useful to re-orient vertical boreholes such as Tol-1. Furthermore, our data show that the bulk transpressionalregional stress field has local variations to a tensional stress field within the NE-striking fault zone belongingto the Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault System, favoring the activation of both NW- and NE-striking pre-existent discontinuities, especiallythe latter which are favorably oriented to open under the prevailing stress field. The vertical σ1 and NS-trendingσ3 calculated in the TGS promote the activation of EW-striking extensional veins and both NE and NW-striking hybridfaults, configuring a complex fluid pathway geometry of at least one kilometer depth.