Magnetic susceptibility of volcanic rocks in geothermal areas: Application potential in geothermal exploration studies for identification of rocks and zones of hydrothermal alteration

Kailasa Pandarinath, Rajasekhariah Shankar, Ignacio S. Torres-Alvarado, Anish Kumar Warrier

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Magnetic susceptibility and petrographic studies of drilled rock cuttings from two geothermal wells (Az-26 and Az-49) of the important electricity-generating geothermal system, Los Azufres, Mexico, were carried out to determine the relation between the magnetic susceptibility of rocks, the concentration of magnetic minerals and hydrothermal alteration. For this purpose, low-frequency magnetic susceptibility (χ lf) was measured and compared its distribution trends with those of magnetic and Fe-Mg silicate minerals, and with the extent of hydrothermal alteration in rocks of the two geothermal wells. The study indicates a decrease in χ lf values with depth in the two geothermal wells corresponding with: (1) an increase in the reservoir temperature and hydrothermal alteration; and (2) a decrease in the concentrations of Fe-Mg silicates and opaque minerals. The data suggest that ferromagnesian minerals and opaque minerals like ilmenite are the main contributors to the χ lf of rocks. The decrease in χ lf, ilmenite, and Fe-Mg mineral contents with an increase in the hydrothermal alteration degree, pyrite and haematite contents suggests the hydrothermal alteration of ilmenite and Fe-Mg minerals (characteristic of high χ lf values) to pyrite, haematite and other opaque minerals (with low χ lf values). The interaction of hydrothermal fluids with rocks results in the hydrothermal alteration of primary minerals. In a geothermal area, an anomaly of low magnetic susceptibility values of rocks in a homogenous litho unit characterized by high magnetic susceptibility may suggest hydrothermal alteration. Magnetic susceptibility can be a useful parameter, during the initial stages of geothermal exploration, in identifying hydrothermally altered rocks and zones of hydrothermal alteration both at the surface and from drilled wells in geothermal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2851-2860
Number of pages10
JournalArabian Journal of Geosciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01-01-2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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