Miocene fossil hydrothermal system associated with a volcanic complex in the Andes of central Chile

Francisco Fuentes, Luis Aguirre, Mario Vergara, Leticia Valdebenito, Eugenia Fonseca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cenozoic deposits in the Andes of central Chile have been affected by very low-grade burial metamorphism. At about 33°S in the Cuesta de Chacabuco area, approximately 53 km north of Santiago, two Oligocene and Miocene volcanic units form a ca. 1300-m-thick rock pile. The Miocene unit corresponds to a volcanic complex composed of two eroded stratovolcanoes. Secondary mineral assemblages in both units were studied petrographically and using X-ray diffraction and electron microprobe analyses. Most of the igneous minerals are wholly or partially preserved, and the ubiquitous secondary minerals are zeolites and mafic phyllosilicates. The alteration pattern observed is characterized by a lateral zonation in secondary mineralogy related to a lateral increase in temperature but not to stratigraphic depth. The following three zones were established, mainly based on the distribution of zeolites: zone I comprises heulandite, thomsonite, mesolite, stilbite and tri-smectite; zone II contains laumontite, yugawaralite, prehnite, epidote and chlorite; and zone III comprises wairakite, epidote, chlorite, diopside, biotite and titanite. For each zone, the following temperature ranges were estimated: zone I, 100-180 °C; zone II, 180-270 °C; and zone III, 245-310 °C. The alteration episode was characterized by a high Pfluid/Ptotal ratio (ca. 1.0), although slightly variable, a high geothermal gradient of ca. 160 °C km-1 and fluid pressures below 500 bars. Although temperature was the main control on the mineral zonation, several interrelated parameters, mainly fluid composition, porosity and permeability, were also important. Hot, near neutral to slightly alkaline pH, alkali chloride hydrothermal fluids with very low dissolved CO2 contents deposited the secondary minerals. The alteration pattern is the result of depositing fluids in outflow regions from a hydrothermal system developed inside a volcanic complex during the Miocene. The hydrothermal system has been eroded to a maximum depth of 1.7 km.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-161
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Volume138
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2004

Keywords

  • Andes
  • Chile
  • Hydrothermal system
  • Mafic phyllosilicates
  • Outflows
  • Zeolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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