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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 22 May 2019

Submitted as: research article | 22 May 2019

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

Anatomy of the magmatic plumbing system of Los Humeros Caldera (Mexico): implications for geothermal systems

Federico Lucci1, Gerardo Carrasco-Núñez2, Federico Rossetti1, Thomas Theye3, John C. White4, stefano Urbani1, Hossein Azizi5, Yoshihiro Asahara6, and Guido Giordano1,7 Federico Lucci et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze, Sez. Scienze Geologiche, Università Roma Tre, Largo S. L. Murialdo 1, 00146 Roma, Italy
  • 2Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus UNAM Juriquilla, 76100, Queretaro, Mexico
  • 3Institut für Anorganische Chemie, Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 4Department of Geosciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY 40475, USA
  • 5Mining Department, Faculty of Engineering, University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj, Iran
  • 6Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan
  • 7CNR - IDPA, Via Luigi Mangiagalli 34, 20133 Milano, Italy

Abstract. Understanding the anatomy of magma plumbing systems of active volcanoes is essential not only for unraveling magma dynamics and eruptive behaviors, but also to define the geometry, depth and temperature of the heat sources for geothermal exploration. The Pleistocene-Holocene Los Humeros volcanic complex is part of the Eastern Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (Central Mexico) and it represents one of the most important exploited geothermal fields in Mexico with ca. 90 MW of produced electricity.

A field-based petrologic and thermobarometric study of lavas erupted during the Holocene (post-Caldera stage) has been performed with the aim to decipher the anatomy of the magmatic plumbing system existing beneath the caldera. New petrographical, whole rock major element data and mineral chemistry were integrated within a suite of inverse thermobarometric models. Compared with previous studies where a single voluminous melt-controlled magma chamber (or "Standard Model") at shallow depths was proposed, our results support a more complex and realistic scenario characterized by a heterogeneous multilayered system comprising a deep (ca. 30 km) basaltic reservoir feeding progressively shallower and smaller distinct stagnation layers, pockets and batches up to very shallow conditions (1 kbar, ca. 3 km). Evolution of melts in the feeding system is mainly controlled by differentiation processes via fractional crystallization, as recorded by polybaric crystallization of clinopyroxenes and orthopyroxenes.

Moreover, this study attempts to emphasize the importance to integrate field-petrography, texture observations and mineral chemistry of primary minerals to unravel the pre-eruptive dynamics and therefore the anatomy of the plumbing system beneath an active volcanic complex, which notwithstanding the numerous existing works is still far to be well understood. A better knowledge of the heat source feeding geothermal systems is very important to improve geothermal exploration strategies.

Federico Lucci et al.
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Federico Lucci et al.
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Short summary
Understanding the anatomy of the magma plumbing systems in active volcanic settings is essential for the understanding of the heat source(s) feeding geothermal systems. Inverse thermobarometry based on mineral-melt equilibria has been applied to Quaternary volcanic products of the Los Humeros geothermal field (Mexico). Results point to a magmatic system made of multiple and polybaric magma storage layers, with significant implication on structure and longevity of the geothermal reservoir.
Understanding the anatomy of the magma plumbing systems in active volcanic settings is essential...