Coupling Geophysical Investigation with Hydrothermal Modeling to Constrain the Enthalpy Classification of a Potential Geothermal Resource

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Geophysical inversion, Hydrothermal modeling, Armenia, Distributed volcanism, Karckar, Gravity

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An appreciable challenge in volcanology and geothermal resource development is to understand the relationships between volcanic systems and low-enthalpy geothermal resources. The enthalpy of an undeveloped geothermal resource in the Karckar region of Armenia is investigated by coupling geophysical and hydrothermal modeling. The results of 3-dimensional inversion of gravity data provide key inputs into a hydrothermal circulation model of the system and associated hot springs, which is used to evaluate possible geothermal system configurations. Hydraulic and thermal properties are specified using maximum a priori estimates. Limited constraints provided by temperature data collected from an existing down-gradient borehole indicate that the geothermal system can most likely be classified as low-enthalpy and liquid dominated. We find the heat source for the system is likely cooling quartz monzonite intrusions in the shallow subsurface and that meteoric recharge in the pull-apart basin circulates to depth, rises along basin-bounding faults and discharges at the hot springs. While other combinations of subsurface properties and geothermal system configurations may fit the temperature distribution equally well, we demonstrate that the low-enthalpy system is reasonably explained based largely on interpretation of surface geophysical data and relatively simple models.

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 298, p. 59-70