The Roosevelt Hot Springs geothermal system has been undergoing intensive exploration since 1974 and has been used as a natural laboratory for the development and testing of geothermal exploration methods by research organizations. This paper summarizes the geological, geophysical, and geochemical data which have been collected since 1974, and presents a retrospective strategy describing the most effective means of exploration for the Roosevelt Hot Springs hydrothermal resource.
The bedrock geology of the area is dominated by metamorphic rocks of Precambrian age and felsic plutonic phases of the Tertiary Mineral Mountains intrusive complex. Rhyolite flows, domes, and pyroclastic rocks reflect igneous activity between 0.8 and 0.5 m.y. ago. The structural setting includes older low-angle normal faulting and east-west faulting produced by deep-seated regional zones of weakness. North to north-northeast-trending faults are the youngest structures in the area, and they control present fumarolic activity. The geothermal reservoir is controlled by intersections of the principal zones of faulting.
The geothermal fluids that discharge from the deep wells are dilute sodium chloride brines containing approximately 7,000 ppm total dissolved solids and anomalous concentrations of F, As, Li, B, and Hg. Geothermometers calculated from the predicted cation contents of the deep reservoir brine range from 520 to 531°F (271 to 277°C). Hydrothermal alteration by these fluids has produced assemblages of clays, alunite, muscovite, chlorite, pyrite, calcite, quartz, and hematite. Geochemical analyses of rocks and soils of the Roosevelt Hot Springs thermal area demonstrate that Hg, As, Mn, Cu, Sb, W, Li, Pb, Zn, Ba, and Be have been transported and redeposited by the thermal fluids.
The geothermal system is well expressed in electrical resistivity and thermal-gradient data and these methods, coupled with geologic mapping, are adequate to delineate the fluids and alteration associated with the geothermal reservoir. The dipole-dipole array seems best suited to acquire and interpret the resistivity data, although controlled source AMT (CSAMT) may be competitive for near-surface mapping. Representations of the thermal data as temperature gradients, heat flow, and temperature are all useful in exploration of the geothermal system, because the thermal fluids themselves rise close to the surface. Self-potential, gravity, magnetic, seismic, and magnetotelluric survey data all contribute to our understanding of the system, but are not considered essential to its exploration.