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Structural discontinuities and their control on hydrothermal systems in the Great Basin, USA

July 6, 2023

Faults are important controls on hydrothermal circulation worldwide. More specifically, structural discontinuities, i.e. locations where faults interact and intersect, host many hydrothermal systems. In the Great Basin, western USA, an extensive characterization effort demonstrated that hydrothermal systems are controlled by one (or more) of eight types of structural discontinuities. Presumably, specific attributes of these structural settings control the generation and maintenance of permeability and porosity, and therefore localize hydrothermal processes. Herein, I examine representative examples of the eight structural settings that host hydrothermal systems in the Great Basin. For each setting, I use a boundary element method to model fault slip on the major faults and track the distribution of stress and strain in the surrounding crust. Results demonstrate that the largest magnitude and most localized stress and strain effects occur in the structural settings that host the largest number of hydrothermal systems; fault stepovers and fault terminations. Structural settings that are common in areas of strike-slip faulting also show localized stress and strain effects. The modelling presented provides process-based explanations for the empirical and conceptual results of regional characterization of Great Basin hydrothermal systems.

Publication Year 2023
Title Structural discontinuities and their control on hydrothermal systems in the Great Basin, USA
DOI 10.1144/geoenergy2023-009
Authors Drew L. Siler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geoenergy
Index ID 70246663
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center