Thermal evolution and fluid-rock interactions in the Orakeikorako- Te Kopia geothermal system, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand

by Bignall, Gregory

Abstract (Summary)
The active Orakeikorako-Te Kopia geothermal system was drilled in the mid-1960’s, down to 1405m, as part of a programme to investigate its electrical generation capability. Four wells were completed at Orakeikorako (23km NNE of Taupo) and two at Te Kopia, 9.5km further northeast. The exploration drilling provided information on the present day hydrological and thermal regime which is as hot as 265°C (1137m drilled depth (-801m RL) in OK-2). Major flows into the wells occurred at depths down to 850m, although poor permeability and decline in mass output discouraged development. The waters discharged were of near neutral pH and had low salinities (highest Cl content from OK-2 ?546mg/kg), low discharge enthalpies and indicated water temperatures (TSiO2 and TNaKCa) of 2l0°C to 240°C. A hydrologic model proposed here envisages a hot water reservoir in the OK-2 area (northeastern part of the Orakeikorako thermal area) with a lateral flow supplying water to the Red Hill (OK-4 area) in the southern part of the system and a concealed northeast flow which reaches the surface at Te Kopia. The Orakeikorako thermal area occupies a surface area of about 1.8km2, mainly on the east bank of the Waikato River, where dilute chloride-bicarbonate water discharges along faults and fractures in association with an extensive silica sinter sheet, boiling springs and geysers. The occurrence of a mordenite-smectite assemblage at shallow depths, plus the oxygen and hydrogen isotopic composition of surface discharge waters, indicate that the ascending chloride fluids are diluted by near surface (heated?) groundwaters. The ?D shift from local groundwater composition may be evidence for a magmatic component to the convecting hydrothermal system. Incursion of fluids from the relatively cool (300°C to ~250°C as it ascended, resulting in the deposition of adularia, quartz and bladed calcite. The system has cooled, resulting in lower subsurface temperatures (as recorded by fluid inclusion geothermometry) suppressing boiling, and migrated northwards as a consequence of self sealing. The thermal decline and retention of CO2 in the deep alkali-chloride fluid shifted the alteration assemblage from one of albite-adularia stability to illite stability. The homogenisation (Th) temperatures of primary and secondary liquid-rich inclusions in 27 cores from different depths mostly match measured temperature profiles (e.g. OK-1 (shallow levels) and OK-2). Never-the-less, fluid inclusion data support mineral-inferred stability temperatures which indicate that parts of the Orakeikorako-Te Kopia system have cooled appreciably (e.g. OK-1, deep levels) and OK-4 (maximum Tbore=238°C, maximum Th=312°C; epidote abundant). In contrast, the northwestern margin (OK-6 area) has heated (OK-6:1113.4m; Tbore=261°C, Th=210-221°C). Some inclusions in the Te Kopia drillholes have Th values that exceed Tbore by as much as 50°C, and are deduced to have been uplifted by movement on the Paeroa Fault. Freezing data indicate that the trapped fluid was dilute (~0.2 to 1.7 wt% NaCl equivalent) since most Tm values range from -0.1 to -0.5°C. The outflow portion of the Orakeikorako-Te Kopia system has evolved recently, both chemically and physically. Movement on the Paeroa Fault, that uplifted pyroclastic rocks hosting a quartz-adularia-illite assemblage, combined with a lowering of the watertable has resulted in an overprinting of the neutral pH hydrothermal mineral assemblage by a kaolinite-alunite type assemblage which derives from an acid sulphate fluid. Quartz crystals found 150m above the base of the Paeroa Fault scarp host dilute (~1.5wt% NaCl equivalent) fluid inclusions with Th values that range from 180-206°C (average 196°C). Bladed quartz (after calcite) did not contain usable inclusions. It is deduced that the inclusions formed about 120-160m below the ground, which indicates uplift in the order of ~300m. Assuming a constant rate of uplift of 4m/ka (based on the offset of 330ka Paeroa Ignimbrite), the minimum duration of activity at Te Kopia is 75,000 years.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:fields of research 260000 earth sciences 260100 geology


Date of Publication:01/01/1994

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