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

Urbani, Stefano; Giordano, Guido; Lucci, Federico; Rossetti, Federico; Acocella, Valerio; Carrasco-Núñez, Gerardo

Resurgent calderas are excellent targets for geothermal exploration, as they are associated with the shallow emplacement of magma, resulting in widespread and long-lasting hydrothermal activity. 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) consists of two nested calderas: the outer and older Los Humeros formed at 164 inline-formulaka and the inner Los Potreros formed at 69 inline-formulaka. The latter is resurgent and currently the site of an active and exploited geothermal field (63 inline-formulaMWe installed). Here we aim to better define the characteristics of the resurgence in Los Potreros by integrating fieldwork with analogue models and evaluating the spatio-temporal evolution of the deformation as well as the depth and extent of the intrusions responsible for the resurgence, which may also represent the local heat source(s).

Structural field analysis and geological mapping show that the floor of the Los Potreros caldera is characterized by several lava domes and cryptodomes (with normal faulting at the top) that suggest multiple deformation sources localized in narrow areas.

Analogue experiments are used to define the possible source of intrusion responsible for the observed surface deformation. We apply a tested relationship between the surface deformation structures and depth of elliptical sources to our experiments with sub-circular sources. We found that this relationship is independent of the source and surface dome eccentricity, and we suggest that the magmatic sources inducing the deformation in Los Potreros are located at very shallow depths (hundreds of metres), which is in agreement with the well data and field observations. We propose that the recent deformation at LHVC is not a classical resurgence associated with the bulk inflation of a deep magma reservoir; rather, it is related to the ascent of multiple magma bodies at shallow crustal conditions (inline-formula<1inline-formulakm depth). A similar multiple source model of the subsurface structure has also been proposed for other calderas with an active geothermal system (Usu volcano, Japan), suggesting that the model proposed may have wider applicability.

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Urbani, Stefano / Giordano, Guido / Lucci, Federico / et al: Estimating the depth and evolution of intrusions at resurgent calderas: Los Humeros (Mexico). 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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