Effect of salinity on mass and energy transport by hydrothermal fluids based on the physical and thermodynamic properties of H2O-NaCl
Various thermodynamic properties of H2O that are defined as pressure or temperature derivatives of some other variable, such as isothermal compressibility (β, pressure derivative of density), isobaric thermal expansion (α, temperature derivative of density), and specific isobaric heat capacity (cf, temperature derivative of enthalpy), all show large magnitudes near the critical point, reflecting large variations in fluid density and specific enthalpy with small changes in temperature and pressure. As a result, mass (related to fluid density) and energy (related to fluid enthalpy) transport in this PT region are sensitive to changing PT conditions. Addition of NaCl to H2O causes the region of anomalous behavior, here defined as the critical region, to migrate to higher temperatures and pressures. The critical region is defined as that region of PT space in which the dimensionless reduced susceptibility ≥ 0.5. When NaCl is added to H2O, the critical region migrates to higher temperature and pressure. However, the absolute magnitudes of thermodynamic properties that are defined as temperature and/or pressure derivatives (α, β, and cf) all decrease with increasing salinity. Thus, the mass and energy transporting capacities of hydrothermal fluids in the critical region become less sensitive to changing PT conditions as the salinity increases. For example, quartz solubility can be described as a function of fluid density, and because density becomes less sensitive to changing PT conditions as salinity increases, quartz solubility also becomes less sensitive to changing PT conditions as fluid salinity increases. Similarly, fluxibility describes the ability of a fluid to transport heat by buoyancy-driven convection, and fluxibility decreases with increasing salinity. Results of this study show that the mass and energy transport capacity of fluids in the Earth's crust are maximized in the critical region and that the sensitivity to changing PT conditions decreases with increasing salinity.