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Flow in an aquifer charged with hot water from a fault zone


Many geothermal anomalies are intersected by vertical fault zones (narrow zones of fractured material with large effective permeability). These conduits are probably responsible for much of the upwelling of hot water from depth. This paper considers a shallow aquifer intersected by a vertical fault. The fluid flow in the aquifer is numerically modeled as a two-dimensional problem. It is observed that the temperature distribution in the aquifer is governed primarily by lateral flow of hot water supplied from the intersecting vertical fault and only secondarily by conduction. The numerical results also provide a possible explanation for the local temperature maxima and inversions occasionally observed in borehole measurements. The present model is an alternative to that based on mushroom-shaped isotherm distributions found in high Rayleigh number large-scale circulation cell calculations.

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Pritchett, J.W., Garg, S.K. Flow in an aquifer charged with hot water from a fault zone. PAGEOPH 117, 309–320 (1978).

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Key words

  • Flow of hot water
  • Vertical fault
  • Finite difference method
  • Buoyant flow
  • Two-dimensional temperature field