Variation in sericite compositions from fracture zones within the Coso Hot Springs geothermal system
Two types of white micas are found in drillhole samples within the geothermal system at Coso Hot Springs. Low-permeability zones of the crystalline basement contain coarse-grained relict muscovite, whereas rock alteration near fracture zones at temperatures > 150°C is characterized by abundant finegrained sericite in association with secondary calcite and quartz and unaltered relict microcline. In this hydrothermal sericite there is an increase in interlayer K, octahedral Mg + Fetotal and tetrahedral Al with increasing temperature between ~215° to >250°C. Thermodynamic activity of the Al 2Si 4O 10(OH) 2 component of serielles, calculated using site-mixing approximations of HELGESON and AAGAARD (1985), decreases with increasing temperature between ~215° and >250°C. As a consequence of the observed variations in the interlayer, octahedral and tetrahedral site occupancies, the activity of KAl 2(AlSi 3O 10(OH) 2 is essentially constant in the Coso seriates over this temperature range. The calculated equilibrium distribution of aqueous species in the hydrothermal solutions produced from well 16-8, together with cation-activity phase diagrams that account for variations in sericite composition, requires a pH of ~6.7-6.8 at temperatures between 236° and 250°C. Comparison of predicted and observed phase relations with fluid compositions indicate that seriates are in local equilibrium with the geothermal reservoir fluid, whereas relict metamorphic muscovites are metastable. Although the compositions of hydrothermal sericites are a complex function of temperature, pressure and geothermal fluid composition, compositional relations observed at Coso together with published compositions of hydrothermal dioctahedral layer-silicates from the Salton Sea geothermal system demonstrates that elemental compositions of interlayer K and tetrahedral Al increase systematically with increasing temperature despite the dramatic differences in fluid compositions between these two geothermal systems. This suggests that the observed variations in interlayer and tetrahedral site occupancy is largely dependent on the enthalpy of hydrolysis reactions representing equilibrium between sericite solid solutions and the geothermal reservoir fluids.