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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 14 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

Estimating the depth and evolution of intrusions at resurgent calderas: Los Humeros (Mexico)

Stefano Urbani1, Guido Giordano1,2, Federico Lucci1, Federico Rossetti1, Valerio Acocella1, and Gerardo Carrasco-Núñez3 Stefano Urbani et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, L.go S.L. Murialdo 1, I-00146 Rome, Italy
  • 2CNR – IDPA c/o Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Luigi Mangiagalli, 34, 20133 Milano
  • 3Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus UNAM Juriquilla, 76100, Queretaro, Mexico

Abstract. Resurgent calderas represent a target with high potential for geothermal exploration, as they are associated with the shallow emplacement of magma, resulting in a widespread and long lasting hydrothermal activity. Therefore, evaluating the thermal potential of resurgent calderas may provide important insights for geothermal exploitation. Resurgence is classically attributed to the uplift of a block or dome resulting from the inflation of the collapse-forming magma chamber due to the intrusion of new magma. The Los Humeros volcanic complex (LHVC; Mexico), consisting of two nested calderas (the outer Los Humeros and the inner, resurgent, Los Potreros), represents an area of high interest for geothermal exploration to optimize the current exploitation of the active geothermal field. Here we aim at better define the characteristics of the resurgence in Los Potreros, by integrating field work with analogue models, evaluating the spatio-temporal evolution of the deformation and the depth and extent of the intrusions responsible for the resurgence and which may represent also the local heat source(s).

Structural field analysis and geological mapping show that Los Potreros area is characterized by several lava domes and cryptodomes (with normal faulting at the top) that suggest multiple deformation sources localized in narrow areas. The analogue experiments simulate the deformation pattern observed in the field, consisting of magma intrusions pushing a domed area with apical graben. To define the possible depth of the intrusion responsible for the observed surface deformations, we apply established relations to our experiments. These relations suggest that the magmatic source responsible for the deformation is present at very shallow depths (hundreds of meters) which is in agreement with the well data and field observations. We therefore propose that the recent deformation at LHVC is not a classical resurgence associated with the bulk inflation of a deep magma reservoir; rather this is related to the ascent of shallow (<1 km) multiple magma bodies. A similar multiple source model of the subsurface structure has been also proposed for other calderas with an active geothermal system (Usu volcano, Japan) suggesting that the model proposed may have a wider applicability.

Stefano Urbani et al.
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Stefano Urbani et al.
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Short summary
In Los Humeros, through field structural-geological mapping and analogue experiments, we showed a discontinuous and small scale (< 1 km) uplift of the caldera floor due to the emplacenment of multiple and shallow (< 1 km) magmatic bodies. These results allow a better assessment of the subsurface structure of Los Humeros having crucial implications for planning the future geothermal exploration which should account for the local geothermal gradient affected by such shallow heat sources.
In Los Humeros, through field structural-geological mapping and analogue experiments, we showed...