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Title: Geothermal Case Studies

The US Geological Survey (USGS) resource assessment (Williams et al., 2009) outlined a mean 30GWe of undiscovered hydrothermal resource in the western US. One goal of the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is to accelerate the development of this undiscovered resource. The Geothermal Technologies Program (GTP) Blue Ribbon Panel (GTO, 2011) recommended that DOE focus efforts on helping industry identify hidden geothermal resources to increase geothermal capacity in the near term. Increased exploration activity will produce more prospects, more discoveries, and more readily developable resources. Detailed exploration case studies akin to those found in oil and gas (e.g. Beaumont, et al, 1990) will give operators a single point of information to gather clean, unbiased information on which to build geothermal drilling prospects. To support this effort, the National Renewable Energy laboratory (NREL) has been working with the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a template for geothermal case studies on the Geothermal Gateway on OpenEI. In fiscal year 2013, the template was developed and tested with two case studies: Raft River Geothermal Area ( and Coso Geothermal Area ( In fiscal year 2014, ten additional case studies were completed, and additional features were added to the template to allow for moremore » data and the direct citations of data. The template allows for: Data - a variety of data can be collected for each area, including power production information, well field information, geologic information, reservoir information, and geochemistry information. Narratives ? general (e.g. area overview, history and infrastructure), technical (e.g. exploration history, well field description, R&D activities) and geologic narratives (e.g. area geology, hydrothermal system, heat source, geochemistry.) Exploration Activity Catalog - catalog of exploration activities conducted in the area (with dates and references.) NEPA Analysis ? a query of NEPA analyses conducted in the area (that have been catalogued in the OpenEI NEPA database.) In fiscal year 2015, NREL is working with universities to populate additional case studies on OpenEI. The goal is to provide a large enough dataset to start conducting analyses of exploration programs to identify correlations between successful exploration plans for areas with similar geologic occurrence models. « less
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
FY13 AOP 2.3
Product Type:
Research Org(s):
DOE Geothermal Data Repository; National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
15 Geothermal Energy; geothermal; case study; case history; exploration; technical issues; environmental issues; timeline; Blue Mountain; geothermal area; Chena; Hot Springs; Dixie Valley; Lilauea; Summit; Kilauea; East Rift; Southwest Rift; South Flank; Lightning Dock; Long Valley Caldera; Caldera; Mt Princeton; Neal; North Brawley; Roosevelt; Rye Patch; Salt Wells; Valles Caldera; Redondo; Sulpher Springs; Waunita; geothermal areas; geothermal resource areas; online list; list of areas; map; geothermal activities; exploration techniques; overview; export; case studies
OSTI Identifier:
  1. The Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) is the submission point for all data collected from researchers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Geothermal Technologies Office (DOE GTO). The DOE GTO is providing access to its geothermal project information through the GDR. The GDR is powered by OpenEI, an energy information portal sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
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  1. To help guide its future data collection efforts, The DOE GTO funded a data gap analysis in FY2012 to identify high potential hydrothermal areas where critical data are needed. This analysis was updated in FY2013 and the resulting datasets are represented by this metadata. Themore » original process was published in FY 2012 and is available here: Though there are many types of data that can be used for hydrothermal exploration, five types of exploration data were targeted for this analysis. These data types were selected for their regional reconnaissance potential, and include many of the primary exploration techniques currently used by the geothermal industry. The data types include: 1. well data 2. geologic maps 3. fault maps 4. geochemistry data 5. geophysical data To determine data coverage, metadata for exploration data (including data type, data status, and coverage information) were collected and catalogued from nodes on the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS). It is the intention of this analysis that the data be updated from this source in a semi-automated fashion as new datasets are added to the NGDS nodes. In addition to this upload, an online tool was developed to allow all geothermal data providers to access this assessment and to directly add metadata themselves and view the results of the analysis via maps of data coverage in Geothermal Prospector ( A grid of the contiguous U.S. was created with 88,000 10-km by 10-km grid cells, and each cell was populated with the status of data availability corresponding to the five data types. Using these five data coverage maps and the USGS Resource Potential Map, sites were identified for future data collection efforts. These sites signify both that the USGS has indicated high favorability of occurrence of geothermal resources and that data gaps exist. The uploaded data are contained in two data files for each data category. The first file contains the grid and is in the SHP file format (shape file.) Each populated grid cell represents a 10k area within which data is known to exist. The second file is a CSV (comma separated value) file that contains all of the individual layers that intersected with the grid. This CSV can be joined with the map to retrieve a list of datasets that are available at any given site. The attributes in the CSV include: 1. grid_id : The id of the grid cell that the data intersects with 2. title: This represents the name of the WFS service that intersected with this grid cell 3. abstract: This represents the description of the WFS service that intersected with this grid cell 4. gap_type: This represents the category of data availability that these data fall within. As the current processing is pulling data from NGDS, this category universally represents data that are available in the NGDS and are ready for acquisition for analytic purposes. 5. proprietary_type: Whether the data are considered proprietary 6. service_type: The type of service 7. base_url: The service URL « less
  2. The Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technology Office (GTO) provides RD&D funding for geothermal exploration technologies with the goal of lowering the risks and costs of geothermal development and exploration. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was tasked with developing a metric in 2012 to measuremore » the impacts of this RD&D funding on the cost and time required for exploration activities. The development of this cost and time metric included collecting cost and time data for exploration techniques, creating a baseline suite of exploration techniques to which future exploration cost and time improvements can be compared, and developing an online tool for graphically showing potential project impacts (all available at Geothermal). This paper describes the methodology used to define the baseline exploration suite of techniques (baseline), as well as the approach that was used to create the cost and time data set that populates the baseline. The resulting product, an online tool for measuring impact, and the aggregated cost and time data are available on the Open Energy Information website (OpenEI, for public access. - Published 01/01/2013 by US National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL. « less
  3. Data generated from the Silver Peak Innovative Exploration Project, in Esmeralda County, Nevada, encompasses a “deep-circulation (amagmatic)” meteoric-geothermal system circulating beneath basin-fill sediments locally blanketed with travertine in western Clayton Valley (lithium-rich brines from which have been mined for several decades). Spring- and shallow-borehole thermal-watermore » geochemistry and geothermometry suggest that a Silver Peak geothermal reservoir is very likely to attain the temperature range 260- 300oF (~125-150oC), and may reach 300-340oF (~150-170oC) or higher (GeothermEx, Inc., 2006). Results of detailed geologic mapping, structural analysis, and conceptual modeling of the prospect (1) support the GeothermEx (op. cit.) assertion that the Silver Peak prospect has good potential for geothermal-power production; and (2) provide a theoretical geologic framework for further exploration and development of the resource. The Silver Peak prospect is situated in the transtensional (regional shearing coupled with extension) Walker Lane structural belt, and squarely within the late Miocene to Pliocene (11 Ma to ~5 Ma) Silver Peak-Lone Mountain metamorphic core complex (SPCC), a feature that accommodated initial displacement transfer between major right-lateral strike- slip fault zones on opposite sides of the Walker Lane. The SPCC consists essentially of a ductiley-deformed lower plate, or “core,” of Proterozoic metamorphic tectonites and tectonized Mesozoic granitoids separated by a regionally extensive, low-angle detachment fault from an upper plate of severely stretched and fractured structural slices of brittle, Proterozoic to Miocene-age lithologies. From a geothermal perspective, the detachment fault itself and some of the upper-plate structural sheets could function as important, if secondary, subhorizontal thermal-fluid aquifers in a Silver Peak hydrothermal system. « less
  4. This geodatabase was built to cover several geothermal targets developed by Flint Geothermal in 2012 during a search for high-temperature systems that could be exploited for electric power development. Several of the thermal springs have geochemistry and geothermometry values indicative of high-temperature systems. In addition,more » the explorationists discovered a very young Climax-style molybdenum porphyry system northeast of Rico, and drilling intersected thermal waters at depth. Datasets include: 1. Structural data collected by Flint Geothermal 2. Point information 3. Mines and prospects from the USGS MRDS dataset 4. Results of reconnaissance shallow (2 meter) temperature surveys 5. Air photo lineaments 6. Areas covered by travertine 7. Groundwater geochemistry 8. Land ownership in the Rico area 9. Georeferenced geologic map of the Rico Quadrangle, by Pratt et al. 10. Various 1:24,000 scale topographic maps « less
  5. The Engineered Geothermal System (EGS) Exploration Methodology Project is developing an exploration approach for EGS through the integration of geoscientific data. The Project chose the Dixie Valley Geothermal System in Nevada as a field laboratory site for methodology calibration purposes because, in the public domain,more » it is a highly characterized geothermal system in the Basin and Range with a considerable amount of geoscience and most importantly, well data. The overall project area is 2500km2 with the Calibration Area (Dixie Valley Geothermal Wellfield) being about 170km2. The project was subdivided into five tasks (1) collect and assess the existing public domain geoscience data; (2) design and populate a GIS database; (3) develop a baseline (existing data) geothermal conceptual model, evaluate geostatistical relationships, and generate baseline, coupled EGS favorability/trust maps from +1km above sea level (asl) to -4km asl for the Calibration Area at 0.5km intervals to identify EGS drilling targets at a scale of 5km x 5km; (4) collect new geophysical and geochemical data, and (5) repeat Task 3 for the enhanced (baseline + new ) data. Favorability maps were based on the integrated assessment of the three critical EGS exploration parameters of interest: rock type, temperature and stress. A complimentary trust map was generated to compliment the favorability maps to graphically illustrate the cumulative confidence in the data used in the favorability mapping. The Final Scientific Report (FSR) is submitted in two parts with Part I describing the results of project Tasks 1 through 3 and Part II covering the results of project Tasks 4 through 5 plus answering nine questions posed in the proposal for the overall project. FSR Part I presents (1) an assessment of the readily available public domain data and some proprietary data provided by Terra-Gen Power, LLC, (2) a re-interpretation of these data as required, (3) an exploratory geostatistical data analysis, (4) the baseline geothermal conceptual model, and (5) the EGS favorability/trust mapping. The conceptual model presented applies to both the hydrothermal system and EGS in the Dixie Valley region. FSR Part II presents (1) 278 new gravity stations; (2) enhanced gravity-magnetic modeling; (3) 42 new ambient seismic noise survey stations; (4) an integration of the new seismic noise data with a regional seismic network; (5) a new methodology and approach to interpret this data; (5) a novel method to predict rock type and temperature based on the newly interpreted data; (6) 70 new magnetotelluric (MT) stations; (7) an integrated interpretation of the enhanced MT data set; (8) the results of a 308 station soil CO2 gas survey; (9) new conductive thermal modeling in the project area; (10) new convective modeling in the Calibration Area; (11) pseudo-convective modeling in the Calibration Area; (12) enhanced data implications and qualitative geoscience correlations at three scales (a) Regional, (b) Project, and (c) Calibration Area; (13) quantitative geostatistical exploratory data analysis; and (14) responses to nine questions posed in the proposal for this investigation. Enhanced favorability/trust maps were not generated because there was not a sufficient amount of new, fully-vetted (see below) rock type, temperature, and stress data. The enhanced seismic data did generate a new method to infer rock type and temperature. However, in the opinion of the Principal Investigator for this project, this new methodology needs to be tested and evaluated at other sites in the Basin and Range before it is used to generate the referenced maps. As in the baseline conceptual model, the enhanced findings can be applied to both the hydrothermal system and EGS in the Dixie Valley region. « less