Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Department name when degree awarded


Committee Chair(s)

Dennis Newell


Dennis Newell


Alexis Ault


Anthony Lowry


Hot spring geochemistry from the Peruvian Andes provide insight on how faults, or fractures in the Earth's crust, are capable of influencing fluid circulation. Faults can either promote or inhibit fluid flow and the goal of this study is test the role of a major fault, such as the Cordillera Blanca detachment, as a channel for transporting deep fluids to the surface. Hot springs are abundant in the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash ranges in Peru, and several springs issue along the Cordillera Blanca detachment, making this region an ideal setting for our study. To test the role of the Cordillera Blanca detachment, hot springs were sampled along the trace of the fault (Group 1), the western edge of the Cordillera Blanca (Group 2), the eastern side of the Cordillera Blanca (Group 3), and in the Cordillera Huayhuash (Group 4). Water and dissolved gas samples were collected from a total of 25 springs and then analyzed for an array of geochemical parameters. Distinct fluid chemistries from Groups 1 and 2 suggest that the Cordillera Blanca detachment and adjacent minor faults to the west intersect at depth and provide a preferential flow path for deep fluid circulation. Understanding the influence of faults on fluid flow is essential for many disciplines (e.g. oil exploration, hydrology), and this work demonstrates that fluid geochemistry is an excellent tool for assessing the role of faults on fluid distribution.



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