STRUCTURAL CONTROLS OF THE EMERSON PASS GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM, NORTHWESTERN NEVADA: CHARACTERIZATION OF A "BLIND" SYSTEM
A thermal anomaly was discovered in Emerson Pass by use of 2-m temperature surveys deployed within a structurally favorable setting and proximal to surface features indicative of geothermal activity. The 2-m temperature surveys define a north-south elongate thermal anomaly that has a maximum recorded temperature of ~60°C and resides on a north- to north-northeast-striking normal fault. Although the active geothermal system is expressed solely as a soil heat anomaly, late Pleistocene travertine and tufa mounds, chalcedonic silica/calcite veins, and silica cemented Pleistocene lacustrine gravels indicate a robust geothermal system was active at the surface in the recent past.
The geothermal system is controlled primarily by the broad step-over between two major range-bounding normal faults. In detail, the system likely results from enhanced permeability generated by the intersection of two oppositely dipping, southward terminating north- to north-northwest-striking (Fox Range fault) and north-northeast-striking normal faults. Structural complexity and spatial heterogeneities of the strain and stress field have developed in the step-over region, but kinematic data suggest a west-northwest-trending (~280° azimuth) extension direction. Therefore, geothermal activity in the Emerson Pass area is probably hosted on north-to north-northeast striking normal faults.