Structural analysis and thermal remote sensing of the Los Humeros Volcanic Complex: Implications for volcano structure and geothermal exploration
Dávila Harris, Pablo
De Franco, Roberto
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The Los Humeros Volcanic Complex (LHVC) is an important geothermal target in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Understanding the structure of the LHVC and its influence on the occurrence of thermal anomalies and hydrothermal fluids is important to get insights into the interplay between the volcano-tectonic setting and the characteristics of the geothermal resources in the area. In this study, we present a structural analysis of the LHVC, focused on Quaternary tectonic and volcano-tectonic features, including the areal distribution of monogenetic volcanic centers. Morphostructural analysis and structural field mapping revealed the geometry, kinematics and dynamics of the structural features in the study area. Also, thermal infrared remote sensing analysis has been applied to the LHVC for the first time, to map the main endogenous thermal anomalies. These data are integrated with newly proposed Unconformity Bounded Stratigraphic Units, to evaluate the implications for the structural behavior of the caldera complex and geothermal field. The LHVC is characterized by a multistage formation, with at least two major episodes of caldera collapse: Los Humeros Caldera (460 ka) and Los Potreros Caldera (100 ka). The study suggests that the geometry of the first collapse recalls a trap-door structure and impinges on a thick volcanic succession (10.5–1.55 Ma), now hosting the geothermal reservoir. The main ring-faults of the two calderas are buried and sealed by the widespread post-calderas volcanic products, and for this reason they probably do not have enough permeability to be the main conveyers of the hydrothermal fluid circulation. An active, previously unrecognized fault system of volcano-tectonic origin has been identified inside the Los Potreros Caldera. This fault system is the main geothermal target, probably originated by active resurgence of the caldera floor. The active fault system defines three distinct structural sectors in the caldera floor, where the occurrence of hydrothermal fluids is controlled by fault-induced secondary permeability. The resurgence of the caldera floor could be induced by an inferred magmatic intrusion, representing the heat source of the geothermal system and feeding the simultaneous monogenetic volcanic activity around the deforming area. The operation of the geothermal field and the plans for further exploration should focus on, both, the active resurgence fault system and the new endogenous thermal anomalies mapped outside the known boundaries of the geothermal field.
Citation:Norini, G., Groppelli, G., Sulpizio, R., Carrasco-Núñez, G., Dávila-Harris, P., Pellicioli, C., ... & De Franco, R. (2015). Structural analysis and thermal remote sensing of the Los Humeros Volcanic Complex: Implications for volcano structure and geothermal exploration. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 301, 221-237.
UNESCO International Nomenclature: Geología-> Energía y procesos geotérmicos
 Geología-> Teledetección (geología)
INIS/ETDE Thesaurus:Geothermal field