Faculté des sciences

A geochemical and geophysical investigation of the hydrothermal complex of Masaya volcano, Nicaragua

Mauri, Guillaume ; Williams-Jones, Glyn ; Saracco, Ginette ; Zureka, Jeffrey M.

In: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2012, vol. 227-228, p. 15-31

Masaya volcano, Nicaragua, is a persistently active volcano characterized by continuous passive degassing for more than 150 years through the open vent of Santiago crater. This study applies self-potential, soil CO2 and ground temperature measurements to highlight the existence of uprising fluids associated to diffuse degassing structures throughout the volcano. The diffuse... Plus

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    Summary

    Masaya volcano, Nicaragua, is a persistently active volcano characterized by continuous passive degassing for more than 150 years through the open vent of Santiago crater. This study applies self-potential, soil CO2 and ground temperature measurements to highlight the existence of uprising fluids associated to diffuse degassing structures throughout the volcano. The diffuse degassing areas are organized in a semi-circular pattern and coincide with several visible and inferred surface volcanic structures (cones, fissure vents) and likely consist of a network of buried faults and dykes that respectively channel uprising flow and act as barrier to gravitational groundwater flow. Water depths have been estimated by multi-scale wavelet tomography of the self-potential data using wavelets from the Poisson kernel family. Compared to previous water flow models, our water depth estimates are shallower and mimic the topography, typically less than 150 m below the surface. Between 2006 and 2010, the depths of rising fluids along the survey profiles remained stable suggesting that hydrothermal activity is in a steady state. This stable activity correlates well with the consistency of the volcanic activity expressed at the surface by the continuously passive degassing.

    When compared to previous structural models of the caldera floor, it appears that the diffuse degassing structures have an important effect on the path that shallow groundwater follows to reach the Laguna de Masaya in the eastern part of the caldera. The hydrogeological system is therefore more complex than previously published models and our new structural model implies that the flow of shallow groundwater must bypass the intrusions to reach the Laguna de Masaya. Furthermore, these diffuse degassing structures show clear evidence of activity and must be connected to a shallow magmatic or hydrothermal reservoir beneath the caldera. As such, the heat budget for Masaya must be significantly larger than previously estimated.