Geysers, boiling groundwater and tectonics: The 3D subsurface resistive structure of the Haukadalur hydrothermal field, Iceland

Matteo Lupi, Marine Collignon, Federico Fischanger, Aurore Carrier, Daniele Trippanera, Laura Pioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geysers are among the most fascinating geological features on Earth. Yet, little is still known about their hydrogeological structure at depth. To shed light on the spatial relationships between the vertical conduits and the aquifers feeding them, we conducted a 3D geoelectrical campaign in the Haukadalur hydrothermal field, Iceland. We deployed 24 Iris Fullwavers across the hydrothermal field and inverted resistivity and chargeability measurements. Additionally, we measured temperature variations inside Strokkur and Great Geysir geysers showing temperature fluctuations pointing out the oscillatory behaviour that characterises the geysering cycle of the geysers. By combining a semi-quantitative temperature distribution of the thermal springs across the hydrothermal field with the inversion of the geoelectrical data, we highlight the control that extensional tectonics have on the distribution of fluids across the hydrothermal field. We also point out the occurrence of a common deep groundwater reservoir feeding the hydrothermal centres. Induced polarization data show that the geysers are fed by sub-vertical water-filled fracture zones. The geysers are found at the margins of highly resistive regions where we speculate boiling groundwater and vapour is found. Our proposed model suggests that local waters feeding the main groundwater reservoir downwell from the nearby region and then convect upwards, phase transitioning into vapour at about 200 m depth. From here, fluids flow towards the surface through pipes cutting a highly pressurised and hot system. This study shows to the best of our knowledge the first full 3D tomographic image of a hydrothermal field hosting geysers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
StatePublished - Oct 19 2022


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