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GeothermicsVol. 27, No. 3, pp.

259270, 1998
1998 CNR
Pergamon Elsevier Science Ltd
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
037~6505/98 $19.00 + 0.00
Plh S0375--6505(97)10015-3

H Y D R O T H E R M A L A L T E R A T I O N M I N E R A L O G Y AS AN
I N D I C A T O R OF H Y D R O L O G Y AT T H E N G A W H A
G E O T H E R M A L FIELD, N E W Z E A L A N D

MALCOLM E. COX* and PATRICK BROWNEr


*School of Natural Resource Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434,
4001 Brisbane, Australia
tGeothermal Institute, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand

(Received March 1997; accepted September 1997)

Abstract--Interaction between geothermal fluids and the rocks through which


they migrate alters many earlier formed minerals and produces others. The
minerals thus formed preserve evidence of hydrological conditions prevailing
within an active geothermal system; in particular, they can reflect the range of
temperatures under which they formed. This feature was tested at the Ngawha
geothermal system, which is different from others in New Zealand in that its
reservoir comprises fractured basement rocks covered by a 500-600 m thick
sequence of sedimentary rocks. Petrographic examination of cores and cuttings
recovered from drillholes at Ngawha shows that the secondary minerals present
within the rock matrices and veins are of different ages. The thermally sensitive
minerals include epidote, titanite, biotite and clays, including some that are
interlayered. Comparison of the measured downwell temperatures with those
deduced from the secondary mineralogy and by homogenizing fluid inclusions,
shows that the central part of the field has remained thermally stable since the
youngest secondary minerals deposited there but its southern margin has cooled
by 20-40C or perhaps more. A likely cause of this is an inflow of cooler water
from the east, which also causes the temperature inversion clearly evident in
hole Ng8. By contrast, some fluid inclusion geothermometry results suggest that
the northern part of the drilled field has heated since their host hydrothermal
quartz crystals formed. 1998 CNR. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

Key words: hydrothermal alteration, fluid inclusion, geothermometry, Ngawha,


New Zealand.

INTRODUCTION
The geothermal system at Ngawha is the only known active high-temperature field occurring
outside the Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand (TVZ) (Fig. 1). It is located within the
Quaternary-Holocene Kerikeri Volcanic Field, and is sited on the central axis of the
259
260 M. E. ('ox anti P. Browne

KEY
/ road
slump feature ~ - stream
fault 0 km 1
-- -- -- deduced fault I , I
We#orate
Ponds Ng5
-345

DNg3
-294
Ng8

Lake

-250 / o N01ef-/ a~,-


/
.,?% Jo" / "
\ / ~ -498 /
?\

/ '~NGAW-~ NORTH
/
?/
/ AU~ND~
Taupo ~ ~ .

-494

~/~'ELLINOTON~ ~00kmj

Fig. 1. Location of Ngawha in the North Island of New Zealand and the location of the Taupo
Volcanic Zone. Shown in the Ngawha area are the wells and main known faults. Additional numbers
at well sites are the thickness of the Cretaceous-Tertiary confining sequence (in meters relative to sea
level).

Northland Peninsula (Cox and Browne, 1992). A wide range of investigations to test the
energy potential of the system was carried out, largely by the different sections of the New
Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DS|R) and the Ministry of
Works and Development (MWD), from ! 977 to 1983.
Fifteen deep geothermal bores were drilled, mostly to 1000-1300 m, with the deepest hole
(Ngl 3) to a true vertical depth of 2255 m. Cores and cuttings recovered from this drilling
were examined petrologically to determine their lithology and hydrothermal alteration
(Browne, 1981; Browne and Gardner, 1982), isotope composition (Blattner, 1980; Blattner,
Hydrotherrnal alteration mineralogy as an indicator of hydrology 261
1982) and rock geochemistry (Cox, 1985). Here we reassess the hydrothermal mineralogy
in general terms and relate it to the temperatures measured down wells.

HYDROTHERMAL ALTERATION IN GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS


General
In geothermal systems with near neutral pH alkali chloride waters, the type of rock
alteration that forms at deep levels is an assemblage that commonly comprises quartz,
calcite, illite, adularia, albite, epidote, chlorite, and wairakite. At shallower depths, alter-
ation minerals present include zeolites, such as laumontite, and smectite, which is present
either as a discrete phase or interlayered with illite. Interaction between rock and water
usually involves addition and/or removal of major rock-forming components, including
CO2, Fe and S. Under suitable conditions (e.g. above 200'~C and with adequate permeability)
equilibrium alteration assemblages will form (e.g. Ellis and Mahon, 1977; Cavarretta et al.,
1980; Bargar and Muffler, 1982).
The factors usually controlling alteration in geothermal systems are (e.g. Browne, 1978;
Elders et al., 1981): temperature, rock type, permeability, fluid composition and the duration
of fluid-rock interactions. At temperatures prevailing to depths commonly drilled, some
minerals are thermally sensitive and occur over a specific temperature range (Browne, 1978,
1985; Bird et al., 1984). Pressures rarely exceed 200 bars, but an important aspect of pressure
is that it controls the depths at which boiling occurs and consequently separation of vapor
and gases. Boiling zones are often characterized by vein minerals such as quartz, K-feldspar
and bladed calcite (e.g. Browne and Ellis, 1970; Bargar and Muffler, 1982; Simmons and
Christenson, 1994).
In most systems, the initial mineralogy of the reservoir rocks appears to have had little
effect on the identity of the alteration assemblages that formed above ~ 230C, although it
may at lower temperatures (Browne, 1978). Permeability, both by its extent and nature,
plays a major role in determining what alteration minerals form, by controlling the amount
of contact between circulating fluids and reservoir rocks. A feature of water-rock reactions
(and so fluid-mineral equilibria) for the TVZ systems is that their reservoir rocks are mostly
pyroclastics and lavas, and thus of different lithology from the basement rocks (Mesozoic
greywackes and argillites) through which the thermal fluids rise. Because volcanic rocks
react so readily with thermal fluids whereas greywackes and argillites do not, intense fluid-
rock interactions are more obvious in the former. At Ngawha, however, the reservoir
rocks are composed entirely of greywackes and argillites so that the effects of fluid/rock
interactions within them are often difficult to recognize but they are, none the less, present.

GEOLOGY OF THE NGAWHA GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM


Component units
Pleistocene and Holocene basaltic volcanic activity was widespread in the Kaikohe and
Ngawha areas (Heming, 1980a; Heming, 1980b), but only thin (few meters) basaltic lava
flows occur near the thermal manifestations. Instead, there is a 500-600 m thick sequence
of disrupted marine sediments of Cretaceous-Tertiary age that overlies, and is locally
intermixed with, an Eocene sequence of mudstones and sandstones; at Ngawha these rest
directly upon the Permian-Jurassic Waipapa Group basement rocks (Skinner, 1981). The
basement comprises a succession of quartzo-feldspathic greywackes and argillites (Browne,
262 M. E. Cox and P. Browne

1981; Skinner, 1981) that have experienced low-grade regional metamorphism to prehnite-
pumpellyite grade at temperatures of ~350C (Mayer, 1968). Individual beds range in
thickness from tens of centimeters to meters. In appearance the rocks are typically dark
gray-green, highly indurated, and fine-grained; they are cut by numerous narrow veins and
joints.

Permeability'
The overlying Cretaceous-Tertiary sedimentary units form a sequence of rocks with a
low bulk permeability due to their fine-grained nature and their high clay contents. This
sequence, therefore, acts as a partly effective confining layer upon the geothermal system.
Its permeability is locally variable and the fluid moving vertically within it is primarily
separated steam and gas but little, if any, liquid water derived directly from the reservoir.
Non-condensable gases ascend slowly along several linear zones but most steam probably
condenses in the subsurface where it forms bicarbonate waters.
The deep thermal fluids move within a myriad of joint channels produced by faulting.
These typically have a spacing of 15 per meter; individual joints may extend vertically for
at least 30 m and most are interconnected in 3 dimensions (Browne, 1980). Permeability is
thus highest in fracture zones but the rocks themselves have low inherent permeability and
near zero porosity. The overall porosity of the reservoir rocks at Ngawha has been estimated
as 3.7% (McGuiness, 1984) and this includes that provided by joints; by contrast, the
porosity of reservoir formations at the Ohaaki field in the TVZ is 10-40% (Mahon and
Finlayson, 1972).
The great abundance of veins in the reservoir rocks at Ngawha contrasts with geothermal
systems in the TVZ where veins are fewer and fluids can move via interconnected pores
(Browne and Gardner, 1982). The occurrence of hydrothermal minerals in veins at Ngawha
shows that fluids move via joint channels but the complexity of the vein textures and
relations testifies to the episodic nature of fluid flow on a very local scale; as older fractures
filled, others were created and new fluid paths developed.
At the unconformity between the basement rocks and the confining sequence, per-
meability is high in places, as revealed by circulation losses that occurred there during
drilling.

MINERALOGY

Methods
The petrology of the Ngawha system has been studied by examining thin sections of drill
cores and cuttings (Browne, 1981). A selection of cores and cuttings was also made for
chemical analysis (Cox, 1985). Samples of whole rock and some separated mineral phases
were also analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) to aid the microscopy. The X R D results
were consistent with petrographic observations, at least for the more abundant minerals.
Selected samples of cores and cuttings with secondary mineralisation were also examined
by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The origins of minerals present in the samples
were mainly deduced by petrographic observations.
The abundance of the minerals was estimated petrographically as a volume-% for the
whole rock (Table 1). A semi-quantitative scale from 1 to 5 (rare to common) was used to
indicate the relative abundance of each mineral. The modes of mineral occurrence were
divided, so far as it was possible, into (a) matrix (primary or metamorphic), (b) old veins
Hydrothermal alteration mineralogy as an indicator of hydrology 263
Table 1. D i s t r i b u t i o n of m a i n minerals within the N g a w h a rocks, distinguishing between rock matrix,
older a n d younger veins

Confining sequence Reservoir

Older Younger Older Younger


Matrix veins veins Total Matrix veins veins Total

Quartz 24.4 0.5 1.5 26.4 20.1 8.8 5.7 34.6


Calcite 12.6 2.5 10.1 25.2 2.4 1.9 6.2 10.5
K-feldspar 8.7 0.2 -- 8.9 3.9 0.3 0.5 4.7
(mainly orthoclase,
some adularia)
Plagioclase 8.0 -- 0.2 8.2 6.3 -- -- 6.3
(mainly albite, m i n o r
oligoclase)
Chlorite 3.8 0.1 0.3 4.2 6.6 2.8 1.8 11.2
Epidote . . . . 3.0 0.8 1.3 5.1
(some clinozoisite)
Illite-muscovite 7.5 0.4 0.5 8.4 8.7 0.4 0.5 9.6
Biotite 1.5 -- -- 1.5 1.1 -- 0.1 1.2
Illite/smectite 2.5 0.2 0.3 3.0 . . . .
(interlayered)
Prehnite 0.3 -- -- 0.3 -- ? 0.3 0.3
Pumpellyite . . . . 1.3 ? 0.1 1.4
Titanite 0.3 -- -- 0.3 0.8 -- 0.1 0.9
Apatite 0.5 -- -- 0.5 -- -- 0.1 0.1
(some collophane)
Dolomite 1.2 -- -- 1.2 -- -- 0.3 0.3
Barite . . . . 0.3 -- -- 0.3
Glauconite 3.0 -- -- 3.0 . . . . .
Hematite 1.2 0.3 0.3 1.8 0.9 1.4 2.5 4.8
( m i n o r iron oxide)
Siderite -- -- 0.5 0.5 2.7 -- 0.3 3.0
Pyrite 3.0 0.5 1.7 5.2 0.6 0.8 3.0 4.4
Pyrrhotite -- -- 1.7 1.7 -- 0.3 1.5 1.8

78.5 4.7 17.1 100.3 58.7 17.5 24.3 100.5

Expressed as a m e a n % o f the whole rock (see text). Confining sequence is based o n 26 samples
a n d reservoir o n 35 samples.
- -= n o t seen ? = relative age u n c e r t a i n

( f o r m e d u n d e r m e t a m o r p h i c o r p r e v i o u s h y d r o t h e r m a l c o n d i t i o n s ) , a n d (c) y o u n g v e i n s
(very recent or a product of the current thermal regime). The points assigned were then
s u m m e d a n d a r e e x p r e s s e d as p e r c e n t a g e s o f a " t o t a l r o c k " . T h e r e s u l t s , t h e r e f o r e , r e p r e s e n t
a "mean" composition characteristic of the confining sequence and reservoir rocks.

Cretaceous-Tertiary confinin 9 sequence


Primary mineraloyy. T h i s s e q u e n c e o f m a r i n e s e d i m e n t s c o m p r i s e s m a i n l y ( i n o r d e r o f
decreasing abundance): siltstone, claystone, limestone, mudstone and sandstone. These
lithologies are typically composed of quartz, calcite, K-feldspar (largely orthoclase), plagio-
264 M. E. Cox and P. Browne
clase (largely albite) and clay minerals (illite, muscovite, some interlayered illite-smectite)
and chlorite. Pyrite is common.
Secondal 3, (hydrothermal alteration) mineralogy. Secondary mineralisation is less intense
in the confining sequence, being about 20% by volume, compared with about 40% in the
reservoir rocks (Table 1). Zones into which steam has condensed, and there mixed with
shallow meteoric water, are characterized by an assemblage of minerals, largely in veins, in
which calcite is dominant; this is because ascending CO2, separated from the deeper thermal
water, dissolves in the shallower water to form a bicarbonate-rich liquid that becomes
saturated with respect to calcite. Also present here are lesser amounts of quartz, illite and
interlayered illite-smectite; the clays are probably the products of the alteration of the
feldspars present in the sediments. Pyrrhotite occurs as an accessory mineral, usually in the
deeper parts, and commonly occurs with calcite, an association which results from boiling
here (Cox and Browne, 1995). Some cores from near the base of the Cretaceous-Tertiary
sequence, however, host minerals such as quartz that deposited directly from hot water.
Minor or local glauconite, dolomite and hematite may be of metamorphic origin,
although this cannot be demonstrated (since they occur in similar rocks outside the geo-
thermal field). The same may also be true for biotite and apatite, and for some pyrite;
however, several of these minerals may be detrital (i.e. primary). Browne (1981) and
Browne and Gardner (1982) also noted the presence of minor kaolinite and that much of
the secondary calcite has recrystallised. It is characteristic of Ngawha alteration that sulfate
minerals are rare. Calcium sulfates do occur but in very minor amounts; Browne (1981)
reported anhydrite in Ngl core from 29m and gypsum at depths of 104, 153 and 429m.
The deeper occurrences of gypsum may, however, result from hydration of anhydrite. X R D
analyses of Ng5 cores (A. Cody, unpub, rep. New Zealand Geological Survey) also show
traces of gypsum, at 64 and 125 m, and gypsum and anhydrite at 482 m. XRD analyses of
cuttings (Ngl 8,298 m) show traces of anhydrite present here.

Grevwacke argillite basement


Primary mhleralogy. The reservoir rocks are mineralogically similar to basement rocks
that occur outside the geothermal field, except for local (and some disseminated) secondary
mineralisation. The metasediment matrices are mainly composed of primary quartz, plagio-
clase, K-feldspar, chlorite, epidote and hematite. Fine-grained pyrite is disseminated in
places, as are occasional minute grains of barite. Some of the illite, muscovite, biotite,
pumpellyite and the iron minerals are probably metamorphic in origin and hence pre-date
the geothermal activity.
Secondary (hydrothermal alteration) mineralogy. As reservoir rocks rarely display mega-
scopic alteration, it is often difficult to recognize the geothermal minerals, since many of
the metamorphic minerals are also stable under the geothermal regime.
Secondary minerals that deposited as youngest fracture fill, however, likely precipitated
from thermal fluids. Older vein minerals contain not only appreciable amounts of calcite
and some quartz but also a wider range of minerals, including Fe-bearing phases. There is
a decrease in calcite abundance with depth in the basement rocks, and this is most obvious
below ~ 700 m. Browne (1981 ) observed that pyrite has a similar distribution to calcite and
that minerals indicating higher temperatures, such as epidote-clinozoisite and prehnite, are
more common below ~ 1000 m depth. Most of the pumpellyite present at Ngawha occurs
in the matrix, suggesting that the mineral here is of metamorphic origin. However, some
very minor pumpellyite and prehnite also present may have deposited as a result of the
Hydrothermal alteration mineralogy as an indicator of hydrology 265
geothermal activity (Browne, 1985) as they are optically clearer. Also present in rock
matrices are minor opaque grains, and rare grains of an unidentified zeolite, zircon and
iron hydroxide (Browne, 1981). Several grains of sphalerite occur in N g l 6 (667.5m) and
arsenopyrite is present in some veins.
The textural relationships of veins, and the undulose extinction of quartz (strained from
deformation) provide evidence that the extensive silicification of the greywackes most likely
pre-dated the present geothermal activity. The mineralogy of samples recovered from Ng7,
which was drilled outside the exploitable reservoir, also reflects a wider-spread style of
alteration; the youngest vein minerals from this well are, however, more typical of cooler
temperatures (e.g. siderite).
Main features of hydrothermal alteration at Ngawha. The lithology of the Ngawha res-
ervoir is nearly uniform (i.e. greywacke-argillite) and the reservoir dimensions are largely a
function of secondary permeability. It is likely that under these conditions deep water
entering the reservoir is already in equilibrium, or nearly so, with the minerals present in
the rocks there. The near absence of replacement alteration shows that the thermal fluids
did not permeate through the host rocks; the effects of fluid/rock interaction within the
reservoir rocks are most obvious in the vein mineralogy, where permeability and tem-
perature are the main mineralogical controls.
Illite, muscovite and chlorite are well-developed in both the confining sequence and the
reservoir rocks. In the former there is also abundant smectite and interlayered illite-smectite,
as well as rare kaolinite. This alteration occurs here in lenses as well as veins, both of which
are of irregular shape, of greatly variable thickness (usually less than 1 mm, but often to
10mm) and extent. Some pervasive and replacement alteration occurs within the coarser-
grained sediments.
Interaction of the reservoir rocks with geothermal fluid has caused their hydration and
the development of clay interlayering with the formation of phases such as interlayered
smectite-chlorite, interlayered chlorite-illite and a more highly hydrated illite. In some
places the crystallinity of primary illite appears to have been reduced. This retrograde effect
is suggested by a decrease in the sharpness of the (001) reflections (Browne, 1981).

T E M P E R A T U R E S IN T H E NGAWHA G E O T H E R M A L SYSTEM
Measured temperatures
Downhole temperatures were measured at Ngawha (MWD unpub, rep.). Typical profiles
are shown by Ngl3 and Ng20; a temperature inversion in Ng8 is evident at a depth of 900-
1000 m (Fig. 2). The measured temperatures can be compared with those deduced from the
mineralogy (Table 2) and show (Table 3) that hotter conditions prevailed in the southern
and eastern parts of the field at some time in the past, commonly 20-30'~C higher but as
much as 50~80C in some places.
This deduced cooling is interpreted as resulting from a change in hydrology within the
reservoir. This change was initiated by an inflow of cool groundwater from the east, which
is now seen in the temperature profile of Ng8 (Fig 3). This water flows westward across the
field affecting wells Ng3, 4 and 13 by causing temperature inversions in them; Ng9 and 12
appear to be similarly affected. More local, shallower lateral flows of cooler water have
also affected the southeast (seen in profiles of wells Ngl8, 20 and 11). These temperature
changes are confined to the reservoir rocks.
In some places, temperatures have remained nearly the same since the hydrothermal
266 M. E. Uox and P. Browne
Temperature ( * C )
o ~ 1~o 1p ~ ~ o p lOO 15o

1 ~ \1 ;',
s, _4\ 484e~.
c
..... ~T-

III !',
I ,
I
) 12

]
'l
14

le
M

B. Heating 2 months :t Shut 3 months Hinting ~ 2 months


2333
2255

Ng 8 Ng 13 Ng 20
Fig. 2. Measured downhole temperatures for geothermal wells Ng8, Ngl 3 and Ng20; conditions at
the time of measurement are noted. The two depth values for each well are drilled depth (upper), and
true vertical depth (lower). The main zones of permeability are indicated by arrows (M = main
feed). Boiling point-depth curves (open system) are shown for pure water (upper curve) and a fluid
of 0.1 m NaCI with 1.5 wt% CO2 (lower curve). The broken horizontal lines mark the base of the
confining sequence (data from MWD unpub, rep.).

Table 2. Usual thermal stability range of alteration minerals at Ngawha.

Mineral Temperature
range (approx. C)

Kaolinite below 60
Siderite below 150
Smectite (140'-220~C gradation range of smectite-illite interlayering) below 140
Illite (increased crystallinity of clay minerals from 150C up to 220C) over 220
Titanite over 150
Prehnite 240-350
Biotite (hydrothermal) over 250
Epidote (hydrothermal) (increasing in crystal size and abundance with increasing over ~ 250
temperature)
Hydrothermal alteration mineraloyy as an indicator of hydroloyy 267
Table 3. Differences between mineralogy-deduced temperatures, determined from cores and cuttings,
and temperatures measured downhole.

Mineralogy-deduced Measured Approx. difference


Well Depth Confining or temperature temperature from present
no (m) reservoir rock (C) (C) (C)

Ngl 530-576 R 21 0-240 225-236 Same


Ng2 188-433 C < 200 150-204 Same
953 R 250-260 235 - 20
1040-1239 R "210-240 232-238 Same
Ng3 512 R 250 224 - 35
550 R 260 224 - 35
1370 R 280 226 - 50
Ng4 to 780 C and R 210-240 to 228 Same
1200 R 260 226 - 35
Ng5 525-550 R 220 218 Same
662 R 220-250 220 - 15
980-1026 R 240-250 236-240 - 10
1277-1287 R 250-260 248 - 10
Ng7 to 435 C < 150 < 122 Same
61 0-725 R < 200 < 173 - 20
850-1200 R 200-250 177-192 - 40
Ng8 490 R 250-260 120 - 130
826-925 R 250-260 ~ 210 - 40
1015 R *240-250 * ~ 208 - 30
1189 R 250 estim.218 - 30
Ng9 550 C and R 260 222 -40
1004 R 250 + 226 - 25
Ng 11 613-708 C 220-240 178-202 - 40
805 R 240-250 212 - 30
1025 R 250 218 - 30
1190 R *220-240 * ~216 - 10
1216 R 250 estim. 220 - 30
Ngl2 620-660 R 250 226 -25
Ng 13 1505 R 240-250 224 - 20
1725-2173 R 250-270 230-290 Same
Ng 18 1220 R 260 + 240 - 20
Ng20 480 R 260 + 180 - 80
855-1650 R *250-260 *224-260 ? - 20
small inversion (feed) 1250-1350 m

* Denotes temperature inversion

minerals f o rm ed . This is the case in the deeper part o f N g l 3 w h er e t e m p e r a t u r e s o v e r 270C


occur. H o w e v e r , m i n e r a l o g i c a l t e m p e r a t u r e s , i n d ic a t e d by e p i d o t e a b u n d a n c e an d crystal
size, o f a b o u t 280C at d e p t h in N g 3 (at 1370 m) suggest past inflow here o f h o t t e r fluids.
P r e v i o u s higher t e m p e r a t u r e s (~>260C) in N g l 8 a nd 20, indicate that h o t fluids once
m o v e d via the M a n g a t a w a i F a u l t (Fig. 1). Slight cooling, or n o n e at all, is evident in wells
N g 5 a nd N g l . N g 5 m a y be closer to a m i n o r inflow o f h o t t e r fluid f r o m the n o r t h , and low
p e r m e a b i l i t y m a y limit the effect o f the c o o l inflow f r o m the east.
268 M. E. Cox and P. Browne

In several wells, e.g. NgS, I I and 20, the observed alteration predicts temperature
inversions that were confirmed by the downhole measurements.

Fluid inclusion homo qenization temperatures


Fluid inclusion measurements were carried out (Christie, 1980) on samples from three
wells, Ng2, 4 and 5 (see Browne, 1981 ). All 20 primary (vapor-rich) and secondary (liquid-
rich) fluid inclusions in samples from Ng2 occur in calcite veins in argillite (706 716 m) and
have homogenization temperatures between 2 1 0 C and 230"C. Downwell temperatures
here were measured at 224C, suggesting that this calcite deposited under present conditions.
Twenty-two secondary inclusions in quartz crystals from Ng4, 494 500 m (recovered from
about 55 m above the base of the confining layer) have homogenization temperatures that
range from 190 to 240~C, but most lie between 211) and 220~C. The measured temperature
here is ~ 216 C and the quartz crystals are euhedral and unetched, indicating that they also
crystallized under the present thermal regime. The existence of primary vapor-rich
inclusions in quartz from the same depth, however, shows that boiling has occurred, perhaps
quite recently.
Christie (1980) measured the homogenization temperatures of 60 primary and secondary
fluid inclusions in platy calcite from argillite in Ng5 at 1004 1071 m, where the measured
well temperatures range from 236 to 239 C. Fifty-six of the inclusions bad homogenization
temperatures of only 210 2 4 0 C with a mode at about 225C, suggesting that heating by
as much as 15 C has occurred in the northern part of the field since their growth. Overall,
the fluid inclusion results are fairly consistent with those deduced from the alteration
mineralogy.

CONCLUSIONS
Rocks of the Ngawha geothermal system have experienced several thermal episodes. The
petrography of the rocks, mainly those from within the reservoir, suggests that a likely
chronology was: (1) a period with prolonged low-grade metamorphism, followed by (2)
several high-temperature hydrothermal episodes, and (3) the development, very recently,
of the current geothermal regime, which itself changed during its timespan; this is recorded
by the hydrothermal alteration and fluid inclusions.
The depth/temperature distribution of minerals can only be recognized in general terms
for Ngawha (as compared with TVZ systems), primarily because of the fracture control on
fluid movement. K-feldspar abundance in the reservoir rocks appears to have been reduced,
as some detrital K-feldspar formerly present has altered to illite. The widespread occurrence
of" CO2 dissolved in the fluid has been, and is still, high. This conclusion is also supported
by the scarcity of Ca-zeolites (e.g. laumontite, heulandite or wairakite).
The mineralogy-deduced temperatures reflect both existing and previous conditions. At
present, fluids are moving along open fractures, and hydrothermal alteration is largely
restricted to fractures/veins. These mineralogically indicated temperatures mostly agree
with the values currently measured. Previous conditions, which were slightly different
locally from those now prevailing, are recorded by minerals preserved in older fractures,
now blocked.
One feature of hydrothermal alteration mineralogy is that it can be used to recognize
relict conditions in a hydrologically complex system and so assist in understanding its
hydrological evolution.
Hydrothermal alteration mineraloyy as an indicator of hydrolo#y 269
Acknowledyements--The authors are grateful for the use of the unpublished reports (MWD, DSIR
and NZGS) referred to in this paper, particularly those on downhole temperature measurements
made by MWD. They also thank colleagues from these organizations for many helpful discussions
about Ngawha. Edwin Roedder and an anonymous reviewer improved the paper.

REFERENCES
Bargar, K. E. and Muffler, L. J. P. (1982) Hydrothermal alteration in research drill hole Y-
11 from a vapor-dominated geothermal system at Mud Volcano, Yellowstone National
Park, Wyoming. Wyomin# Geol. Assoc. Guidebook, 1982, pp. 139-152.
Bird, D. K., Schiffman, P., Elders, W. A., Williams, A. E. and McDowell, S. D. (1984)
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