Evidence for large-scale Laramide tectonic inversion and a mid-Tertiary caldera ring fracture zone at the Lightening Dock geothermal system, New Mexico
James C. Witcher

Abstract:

Stratigraphy in a recent intermediate depth (2100 ft) geothermal test hole is interpreted along side previous deep (7001 to 7404 ft depth) exploration holes to study large-scale structural controls for the Lightning Dock geothermal system and refine the stratigraphic and structural characterization of the shallow reservoir. Laramide compression and large-scale tectonic inversion of a northwest-trending Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous extensional structure at the Lightning Dock geothermal site represents deformation that may exceed Neogene extensional processes in magnitude and duration and provide potential for a significant volume of shattered rock. Also, volcanic stratigraphy supports the hypothesis of Elston et al. (1983) for a mid- Tertiary caldera ring fracture zone in the vicinity the geothermal area. Northeast- and north-trending Neogene normal faults that cross cut older structures provide additional preparation of fractured ground. A north-trending Pleistocene normal fault may reopen older fractures that are favorably oriented and allow concentration and upward flow of deep-seated geothermal fluids. Because the Lightning Dock geothermal system is “blind” and has no surface manifestations, a better understanding of structures buried beneath Neogene alluvial basin fill may have application in geothermal exploration to find similar “blind” geothermal systems elsewhere in southern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.


Citation:

  1. Witcher, James C., 2008, Evidence for large-scale Laramide tectonic inversion and a mid-Tertiary caldera ring fracture zone at the Lightening Dock geothermal system, New Mexico, in: Geology of the Gila Wilderness - Silver City area, Mack, Greg; Witcher, James, Lueth, Virgil W., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 59th Field Conference, pp. 177-187.

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