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Title: Merging high resolution geophysical and geochemical surveys to reduce exploration risk at glass buttes, Oregon

The engineering and studies phase of the Glass Buttes project was aimed at reducing risk during the early stages of geothermal project development. The project’s inclusion of high resolution geophysical and geochemical surveys allowed Ormat to evaluate the value of these surveys both independently and in combination to quantify the most valuable course of action for exploration in an area where structure, permeability, and temperature are the most pressing questions. The sizes of the thermal anomalies at Glass Buttes are unusually large. Over the course of Phase I Ormat acquired high resolution LIDAR data to accurately map fault manifestations at the surface and collected detailed gravity and aeromagnetic surveys to map subsurface structural features. In addition, Ormat collected airborne hyperspectral data to assist with mapping the rock petrology and mineral alteration assemblages along Glass Buttes faults and magnetotelluric (MT) survey to try to better constrain the structures at depth. Direct and indirect identification of alteration assemblages reveal not only the geochemical character and temperature of the causative hydrothermal fluids but can also constrain areas of upflow along specific fault segments. All five datasets were merged along with subsurface lithologies and temperatures to predict the most likely locations for high permeabilitymore » and hot fluids. The Glass Buttes temperature anomalies include 2 areas, totaling 60 km2 (23 mi2) of measured temperature gradients over 165° C/km (10° F/100ft). The Midnight Point temperature anomaly includes the Strat-1 well with 90°C (194 °F) at 603 m (1981 ft) with a 164 °C/km (10°F/100ft) temperature gradient at bottom hole and the GB-18 well with 71°C (160 °F) at 396 m (1300 ft) with a 182°C/km (11°F/100ft) gradient. The primary area of alteration and elevated temperature occurs near major fault intersections associated with Brothers Fault Zone and Basin and Range systems. Evidence for faulting is observed in each data set as follows. Field observations include fault plane orientations, complicated fault intersections, and hydrothermal alteration apparently pre-dating basalt flows. Geophysical anomalies include large, linear gradients in gravity and aeromagnetic data with magnetic lows possibly associated with alteration. Resistivity low anomalies also appear to have offsets associated with faulting. Hyperspectral and XRF identified alteration and individual volcanic flow units, respectively. When incorporated into a 3D geologic model, the fault intersections near the highest proven temperature and geophysical anomalies provide the first priority targets at Midnight Point. Ormat geologists selected the Midnight Point 52-33 drilling target based on a combination of pre-existing drilling data, geologic field work, geophysical interpretation, and geochemical analysis. Deep temperatures of well 52-33 was lower than anticipated. Temperature gradients in the well mirrored those found in historical drilling, but they decreased below 1500 ft and were isothermal below 2000 ft.« less
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  1. Ormat Nevada, Inc., Reno, NV (United States)
  2. Corescan Inc., Ascot (Australia)
  3. Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Ormat Nevada, Inc., Reno, NV (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
Country of Publication:
United States