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HYDROTHERMAL ALTERATION

MINERALOGY

By
John Lagat
Presentation outline
zIntroduction
zWhat is hydrothermal alteration mineralogy
zSampling methods
zAnalytical methods
zAlteration types
zFactors affecting hydrothermal alteration
zPrimary minerals and their alteration products
zApplication of alteration in geothermal systems
zApplication of hydrothermal alteration in ore
deposits
zProblems with hydrothermal alteration minerals
z Case study: Olkaria Domes field
Introduction-1 (Geology terminology)

Mineral

A mineral is defined as
an element or
chemical compound
that is normally
crystalline and has
formed as a result of
geologic processes.
Introduction-2 (Geology terminology)
Main rock forming minerals
Although any of hundreds of different minerals can
group together to form a rock, only six are very
common. These common minerals are referred to
as the rock-forming minerals
minerals and include quartz,
feldspars, micas, amphiboles, pyroxenes and
olivine.

Others include: Fe-Mg, oxides, sulphides,


carbonates and native elements.
Introduction-3 (Geology terminology)
Rock
By definition, a rock is
an aggregate of one or
more minerals, naturally
occurring crystalline
substances with defined
properties.
Types of rocks
Igneous rocks
Sedimentary
Metamorphic rocks
Hydrothermal alteration 1
Rock alteration
Rock alteration simply means changing the
mineralogy of the rock.
Hydrothermal alteration 2
Hydrothermal alteration
Hydrothermal alteration is a change in mineralogy
as a result of interaction of of the rock with hot
water fluids (hydrothermal fluids).
Hydrothermal alteration 3
Existence of a hydrothermal system
Heat source
Recharge fluids
Permeable rocks
Enough time for heat transfer
Return path to the surface
Sampling in the field

Samples for petrographic,


petrochemistry and dating
require fresh samples.

Altered samples are already


obliterated and the alteration
products are mainly clays,
zeolites.
Sampling at the rig
-Cuttings samples are taken after every 2 m

-Cores are cut mainly during exploration wells.


Analytical methods-1
1. Binocular microscope
Preliminary analysis is
done at the rig site by use
of a binocular microscope.
(pyrite, quartz, calcite,
epidote)
2. Petrographic microscope
Representative
samples are
selected and thin
sections prepared
for petrographic
studies.
Analytical methods-2
3. X-Ray Diffractometer
The X-Ray Diffractometer is
used to identify individual
minerals especially clays
and zeolites.
Clays (OW-903, 1137-1135 masl)
d=15,473

1100

1000
d=31,60

d=13,558

900

800

700

600
Lin (Cps)

d=29,095

500

400
d=8,951
d=10,052

d=7,713

d=7,131

300

200

100

2.2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Diffractograms
Analytical methods-3

4. Fluid inclusion analysis


Fluid inclusions are small
portions of fluid, which
are trapped in a solid
crystal as it grew or
recrystallized.
Alteration types-1
(a) Direct deposition

Sulphur Quartz vein


Precipitated from saturated solution and deposit-
ed in veins and vesicles
Alteration types-2

Replacement
Primary phases Alteration products
Volcanic glass Zeolites, clays, quartz, calcite
Olivine Chlorite, actinolite, hematite, clays
Pyroxenes, amphiboles Chlorite, illite, quartz, pyrite,
calcite
Ca-plagioclase Calcite, albite, adularia, quartz,
illite, epidote, sphene
Sanidine, orthoclase, Adularia
microcline
Magnetite Pyrite, sphene, haematite
Alteration types-3
(c) Leaching
Process takes place at margins of
geothermal field

Acidified steam condensate dissolve primary


minerals without replacing voids thus
formed.
Alteration types-4
(d) Ejecta
Bladed euhedral crystals of calcite form in the
turbulence of boiling
Factors affecting hydrothermal alteration-1
1. Temperature
Temperature is the most
significant factor in
hydrothermal alteration
because most of the
chemical reactions require
elevated temperatures and
also minerals are
thermodynamically stable
at high temperatures.
Factors affecting hydrothermal alteration-2
2. Permeability
Permeability of the rocks controls
the access of thermal fluids, which
cause hydrothermal alteration of
the rocks and precipitation of
secondary minerals in open
spaces.

Rocks which have very restricted


permeability or are completely
impervious to fluid will be only
slightly altered.
Factors affecting hydr. alt-3
3. Pressure
Unlike metamorphic environm. Pressures seldom
exceed 200 bars.

Main effect of pressure is an indirect one in that it


controls depth at which boiling.
Factors affecting hydr alt-4

4. Initial rock composition


The chemical composition of the host rock
determines the availability of components to form
alteration minerals.

Glass easily susceptible than the crystalline rock


Reverse of the Bowen's reaction series
Factors affecting hydrothermal alteration-5
5. Fluid composition

The pH and the composition


of the fluid greatly
determine rate and the
types of hydrothermal
minerals to be formed in a
geothermal system.
Application of alt. mins in geothermal systems-1
1. Geothermometers

MINERA LS TEMPERATU RE C

Alteration mins e.g.


100 200 300

C halcedony

zeolites, clays, Mordenite


C alcite

prehnite, epidote Pyrite


C hlorite

and many others Illite


A lbite

are useful as A dularia


Q uartz

geother-mometers
Sphene
Wairakite
Prehnite
Epidote
Biotite
A ctinolite
G arnet
Application of alt. min in geothermal systems-2

2. Permeability indicators

Alteration minerals e.g. quartz,


anhydrite, wairakite abundant
calcite and pyrite are used as
indicators of high
permeability.
Application of alt. min in geothermal systems-3
3. Setting production casing depths

Temperature ranges of minerals especially


phylosilicates and calcsilicates assist in estimating
subsurface temperatures hence setting of
production casing depths.
Application of alt. min in geothermal systems-4

4. Understand the nature of the reservoir


9Determine the uplflow, outflow and marginal zones
9Determine structures that control the geothermal
fluids
9Predicting possible boiling and or high gas zones
during drilling-bladed calcite

9Identifying past fluctuations in the thermal system


Application of alt. min in geothermal systems-5

5. Predicting scaling and and corrosion tendencies

9Bladed calcite indicate boiling hence possibility


of calcite scaling and corrosion

9Formation of certain alteration minerals depend


on the pH of the hydrothermal fluids
Application of alt. min in ore deposits

Source of economic minerals


9Veins form where the fluids flow through larger,
open space fractures and precipitate mineralization
along the walls of the fracture, eventually filling it
completely
Problems with hydrothermal alteration minerals

Corrosion and scaling problems in geothermal


systems
Hydrothermal min. zonations
2100
OW -903
OW -902

1900 OW -901
UNALTERED ZONE

10 0
C +
1700 C +
125

150C

1500 17 5C ZEOLITE-CHLORITE ZONE


200 C

1300 225C
230C
2 40
C
24 5
C
1100 ILLITE-CHLORITE ZONE
2 48
C

x
900 NE
E ZO
IT
27 5C OR
CHL
E-
LIT
700
Depth(masl)

E -I L
OT
E P ID
500

300C
300

32 5C

340 C
100

-100

GARNET-BIOTITE-ACTINOLITE ZONE
-300
Case example Domes OW-902
2100
OW -903

O W-902

OW-90 1
1900

100C
1700 C
125

150C

1500 175C

200C
Chl orite isograd

1300 225C
230C
240
C
ad
isogr
Illite
1100
rad
isog
ote
Epid
245C
24
900 8
C

275C
Depth (m.a.s.l)

700

500

Garnet isograd
300C
300

325 C
340C
100
?
Ac
tin
o lit

-100
e is
og
rad
e

-300
Case example Domes OW-901
2100
OW -903

O W-902

OW-90 1
1900

100C
1700 C
125

150C

1500 175C

200C
Chl orite isograd

1300 225C
230C
240
C
ad
isogr
Illite
1100
rad
isog
ote
Epid
245C
24
900 8
C

275C
Depth (m.a.s.l)

700

500

Garnet isograd
300C
300

325 C
340C
100
?
Ac
tin
o lit

-100
e is
og
rad
e

-300