Although pH measurements of hot spring water are taken in conventional geothermal resource research, previous studies have seldom created pH distribution maps of stream and spring waters for an entire geothermal field as a technique for geothermal exploration. In this study, a pH distribution map was created by measuring stream and spring water pH at 75 sites in the Mutsu Hiuchi Dake geothermal field, Japan. Areas of abnormally high pH were detected in midstream sections of the Ohaka and Koaka rivers; these matched the location of the Mutsu Hiuchi Dake East Slope Fault, which is believed to have formed a geothermal reservoir. The abnormally high pH zone is attributed to the trapping of rising volcanic gases in a mature geothermal reservoir with neutral geothermal water. This causes the gas to dissolve and prevents it from reaching the surface. Thus, the mapping of stream water pH distribution in a geothermal field could provide a new and effective method for estimating the locations of geothermal reservoirs. As the proposed method does not require laboratory analysis, and is more temporally and economically efficient than conventional methods, it might help to promote geothermal development in inaccessible and remote regions.
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