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Fluid inclusions and preliminary studies of hydrothermal alteration in core hole PLTG-1, Platanares geothermal area, Honduras

January 1, 1991

The Platanares geothermal area in western Honduras consists of more than 100 hot springs that issue from numerous hot-spring groups along the banks or within the streambed of the Quebrada de Agua Caliente (brook of hot water). Evaluation of this geothermal area included drilling a 650-m deep PLTG-1 drill hole which penetrated a surface mantling of stream terrace deposits, about 550 m of Tertiary andesitic lava flows, and Cretaceous to lower Tertiary sedimentary rocks in the lower 90 m of the drill core. Fractures and cavities in the drill core are partly to completely filled by hydrothermal minerals that include quartz, kaolinite, mixed-layer illite-smectite, barite, fluorite, chlorite, calcite, laumontite, biotite, hematite, marcasite, pyrite, arsenopyrite, stibnite, and sphalerite; the most common open-space fillings are calcite and quartz. Biotite from 138.9-m depth, dated at 37.41 Ma by replicate 40Ar/39 Ar analyses using a continuous laser system, is the earliest hydrothermal mineral deposited in the PLTG-1 drill core. This mid-Tertiary age indicates that at least some of the hydrothermal alteration encountered in the PLTG-1 drill core occurred in the distant past and is unrelated to the present geothermal system. Furthermore, homogenization temperatures (Th) and melting-point temperatures (Tm) for fluid inclusions in two of the later-formed hydrothermal minerals, calcite and barite, suggest that the temperatures and concentration of dissolved solids of the fluids present at the time these fluid inclusions formed were very different from the present temperatures and fluid chemistry measured in the drill hole. Liquid-rich secondary fluid inclusions in barite and caicite from drill hole PLTG-1 have Th values that range from about 20??C less than the present measured temperature curve at 590.1-m depth to as much as 90??C higher than the temperature curve at 46.75-m depth. Many of the barite Th measurements (ranging between 114?? and 265??C) plot above the reference surface boiling-point curve for pure water assuming hydrostatic conditions; however, the absence of evidence for boiling in the fluid inclusions indicates that at the time the minerals formed, the ground surface must have been at least 80 m higher than at present and underwent stream erosion to the current elevation. Near-surface mixed-layer illite-smectite is closely associated with barite and appears to have formed at about the same temperature range (about 120?? to 200??C) as the fluid-inclusion Th values for barite. Fluid-inclusion Th values for calcite range between about 136?? and 213??C. Several of the calcite Th values are significantly lower than the present measured temperature curve. The melting-point temperatures (Tm) of fluid-inclusion ice yield calculated salinities, ranging from near zero to as much as 5.4 wt. % NaCl equivalent, which suggest that much of the barite and calcite precipitated from fluids of significantly greater salinity than the present low salinity Platanares hot-spring water or water produced from the drill hole.

Publication Year 1991
Title Fluid inclusions and preliminary studies of hydrothermal alteration in core hole PLTG-1, Platanares geothermal area, Honduras
DOI 10.1016/0377-0273(91)90027-W
Authors K.E. Bargar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70016919
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse