A 2-D FEM thermal model to simulate water flow in a porous media: Campi Flegrei caldera case study
Abstract. Volcanic and geothermal aspects both exist in many geologically young areas. In these areas the heat transfer process is of fundamental importance, so that the thermal and fluid-dynamic processes characterizing a viscous fluid in a porous medium are very important to understand the complex dynamics of the these areas. The Campi Flegrei caldera, located west of the city of Naples, within the central-southern sector of the large graben of Campanian plain, is a region where both volcanic and geothermal phenomena are present. The upper part of the geothermal system can be considered roughly as a succession of volcanic porous material (tuff) saturated by a mixture formed mainly by water and carbon dioxide. We have implemented a finite elements approach in transient conditions to simulate water flow in a 2-D porous medium to model the changes of temperature in the geothermal system due to magmatic fluid inflow, accounting for a transient phase, not considered in the analytical solutions and fluid compressibility. The thermal model is described by means of conductive/convective equations, in which we propose a thermal source represented by a parabolic shape function to better simulate an increase of temperature in the central part (magma chamber) of a box, simulating the Campi Flegrei caldera and using more recent evaluations, from literature, for the medium's parameters (specific heat capacity, density, thermal conductivity, permeability). A best-fit velocity for the permeant is evaluated by comparing the simulated temperatures with those measured in wells drilled by Agip (Italian Oil Agency) in the 1980s in the framework of geothermal exploration. A few tens of days are enough to reach the thermal steady state, showing the quick response of the system to heat injection. The increase in the pressure due to the heat transport is then used to compute ground deformation, in particular the vertical displacements characteristics of the Campi Flegrei caldera behaviour. The vertical displacements range from 1 cm to 10 cm in accordance with the mini uplift, characterizing the recent behaviour of the caldera. The time needed to move fluid particles from the bottom to the upper layer (years) is compatible with the timing of the mini uplift.