Imaging the deep structures of los humeros geothermal field, Mexico, using three-component seismic noise beamforming

Katrin Löer*, Tania Toledo, Gianluca Norini, Xin Zhang, Andrew Curtis, Erik Hans Saenger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We present a 1D shear-velocity model for Los Humeros geothermal field (Mexico) obtained from three-component beamforming of ambient seismic noise, imaging for the first time the bottom of the sedimentary basement ∼ 5 km below the volcanic caldera, as well as the brittle-ductile transition at ∼ 10 km depth. Rayleigh-wave dispersion curves are extracted from ambient seismic noise measurements and inverted using a Markov chain Monte Carlo scheme. The resulting probability density function provides the shear-velocity distribution down to 15 km depth, hence, much deeper than other techniques applied in the area. In the upper 4 km, our model conforms to a profile from local seismicity analysis and matches geological structure inferred from well logs, which validates the methodology. Complementing information from well logs and outcrops at the near surface, discontinuities in the seismic profile can be linked to geological transitions allowing us to infer structural information of the deeper subsurface. By constraining the extent of rocks with brittle behavior and permeability conditions at greater depths, our results are of paramount importance for the future exploitation of the reservoir and provide a basis for the geological and thermodynamic modeling of active superhot geothermal systems, in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3269-3277
Number of pages9
JournalSeismological Research Letters
Issue number6
Early online date5 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from the GEMex Project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement Number 727550, and by the Mexican Energy Sustainability Fund CONACYT-SENER, WP 4.5 of the Project 2015-04-268074. Katrin Löer has received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Project Number 298820846. The authors acknowledge Gerardo Carrasco-Núñez for useful discussions on the geology of Los Humeros volcanic complex (LHVC) and the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) personnel for their support during the study of the geothermal field. The authors also thank Benedikt Ahrens for valuable contributions to the interpretation of the velocity profile.


  • geothermal fields
  • Los Humeros
  • earthquakes
  • geothermal energy


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