NPGS Monthly Dinner Meeting—Sept 7

Nevada Petroleum & Geothermal Society
Monthly Dinner Meeting
Thursday, Sep 7, 2017
Subject: The Shell Oil “Vilche” Deep Test and a Better Understanding of the Pine Creek Fault, Northern Sacramento Basin: What a Difference One Micropaleontology Report Makes!
Speaker: Scott T. Hector, Geologist, Hobby Energy, Rio Vista, CA

Abstract: The Shell Oil “Vilche” well was drilled to a total depth of 19,670’ in 1980.  It is by far the deepest well ever drilled in the Sacramento Basin, even though the deep dry hole is located in the far northern portion of the basin and lies north of any natural gas production.  Recent remapping of this part of the basin, making use of a micropaleontology report of the well, has caused a significant change in the understanding of this part of the basin.  These data, along with data from a 15-well drilling program by Hamar Associates and the Nahabedian Exploration Group between 1998 and 2006, show that the Pine Creek fault has a much larger offset than was previously thought.  The data also show that a thick section of Upper Cretaceous strata was preserved in a “sub-basin” on the northern side of the fault.

Bio: Scott Hector is a partner in Hobby Energy, a geological consulting firm located in Rio Vista, California. The company was started in 2005 with the help of the late Kevin Graham, who also owned Paul Graham Drilling and Service Company. Hobby assists other companies in oil and gas prospect analysis, drilling proposals and mineral remoteness opinions. In recent years most of the work for the firm has been the Mineral Remoteness Opinions, mainly for the solar power and wind power industries.

Scott was born in 1948 in Albany, California. He has been interested in geology since he burned his hand trying to pick up a sparkly gravel rock in the parking lot of a restaurant near Palm Springs in the middle of summer at the age of 5. His father bought him a small child’s rock collection in the restaurant to stop his crying. He fell in love with the collection, even sleeping with it, according to his parents. The love affair has never ended!

Scott attended Humboldt State College from 1967 to 1970, but transferred to the University of California at Davis. He received his B.S. degree in Geology from there in 1972, and his M.S. degree from UCD in 1976. He actually started to work in the oil industry with Texaco in 1974, and finished his thesis two years later. His thesis was a mapping thesis over the Castle Rock Quadrangle in the Santa Cruz Mountains, some 40 miles south of San Francisco on the Peninsula (and, where he grew up on a 200-acre ranch). Scott had Robert Matthews and Cordell Durrell from UCD on his committee, and Dr. Earl Brabb from the USGS.

So, Scott’s oil patch experience has been over 40 years. He has held between 12 and 14 jobs, depending how you count “ungainful employment as a consultant”. Work places have been Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Woodland, Davis, Houston, Denver. Employers have included Texaco, Carlsberg Petroleum, Great Basins, Champlin, MCOR (McCulloch), Energylog, North Valley, Gary Drilling, Gotland Oil, Carneros Energy and Hobby Energy. Areas of work have included oil or gas fields throughout the U.S.A., but mainly in the basins of California and the Paradox Basin of Utah and Colorado.

The paper presented today is due to work that Scott is doing for the Pacific Section AAPG. The group is planning to publish a C.D. on geological contributions on the Sacramento Basin. Scott started to work on a paper on the deepest wells drilled in the basin, and became intrigued with the deepest one. This led to discussions with his great friend Al Almgren, who provided him with paleo data on the deep well. The results of the study will be discussed with the group. The talk was first presented at the join Rocky Mountain AAPG and Pacific Section AAPG meeting in Las Vegas in October 2016.

Location: Ramada Reno Hotel, 1000 East 6th Street, Reno, NV 89512
Details: Cocktail Reception 6:30 PM, Skyline Bar, 14th Floor
Dinner Served at 7:00 PM
NPGS Members $20, Non-Members $23, Students $10

Please RSVP by TODAY Sept 6 by 5 PM for the Dinner Meeting with the following link:

If you find that you cannot attend, please email Vicki Ehni at or call at 775-720-6387. NPGS will be charged for all no-shows. Thank you for your consideration.


NBMG Cart/GIS Group Welcomes Sydney Wilson

NBMG welcomes a new cartographer to its Cartographic/GIS group. The Cartography and GIS lab is a specialty group within NBMG.  They are a campus and community resource that specializes in producing geologic maps and other publications, as well as data management. They primarily work on NBMG projects, but are available for projects from other departments at UNR, other universities and state agencies, and industry.

Sydney Wilson is a newly hired Cartographic/Graphics Technician I and joined NBMG on September 1, 2017. Sydney received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Soil and Water Science from the University of Arkansas in December of 2014.  After graduation, she began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–New England District as a GIS intern. Her work supported a flood control project called the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area.  In the summer of 2016, she completed a wildlife monitoring internship at Cape Cod National Seashore. She returned home to Texas in the fall of 2016 to further her education, and recently received a Graduate Certificate in GIS from the University of Denver (online) in June of 2017. Sydney enjoys biking, hiking, and cooking in her spare time.

Job Announcements from BLM

We are pleased to announce new, exciting positions available at BLM – BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT.   It is our hope that qualified, career oriented individuals at your organization or other professionals known to you will actively consider this position and apply accordingly.  Efforts on your part to disseminate this information are greatly appreciated.

Job Description:  Petroleum Engineer
Announcement Number:  MT-DEU-2017-0067
Location(s) of position:  Billings, MT, US
Salary:  (USD) $47,735 – (USD) $110,080
Applications will be accepted until:  08/29/2017
For additional information on this job posting, please click here.

Job Description:  Engineering Technician (Civil)
Announcement Number:  UT-DEU-2017-0047
Location(s) of position:  Cedar City, UT, US
Salary:  (USD) $40,684 – (USD) $64,697
Applications will be accepted until:  08/31/2017
For additional information on this job posting, please click here.

Job Description:  IT Specialist (Customer Support)
Announcement Number:  NOC Merit-2017-0072
Location(s) of position:  Fairbanks, AK, US
Salary:  (USD) $55,560 – (USD) $98,044
Applications will be accepted until:  09/07/2017
For additional information on this job posting, please click here.

New Geologic Map—Red Ridge Area, Churchill and Mineral Counties

Preliminary Geologic Map of the Red Ridge Area, Churchill and Mineral Counties, Nevada
Author: Chad W. Carlson
Year: 2017
Series: Open-File Report 2017-02
Format: plate: 35.5 x 28 inches, color; text: 7 pages, color
Scale: 1:24,000
Free download/purchase:

The Walker Lane accommodates dextral motion between the northwest translating Sierra Nevada microplate to the west and Basin and Range extension to the east. A significant portion of dextral shear in the central Walker Lane is accommodated on left-stepping, en echelon, northwest-striking fault systems that compose the Walker Lake domain. Northwest of these dextral faults, strain is transferred to sinistral faults accommodating oroclinal flexure and clockwise-rotation of blocks in the Carson domain of the northern Walker Lane. Positioned at the northern terminus of the Walker Lake domain, the Red Ridge area resides southeast and in right-lateral separation across the Benton Spring fault from the Terrill Mountains. The thick Oligocene to late Miocene volcanic strata of the Red Ridge area provide opportunity to examine Tertiary strata and styles of deformation and correlate to results of recent geologic mapping completed in the adjacent Terrill Mountains quadrangle. Detailed geologic mapping of the Red Ridge area was completed to help elucidate the Neogene styles of, and transitions in, strain accommodation for this region of the Walker Lane.

Geologic mapping of the Red Ridge area greatly elucidated the stratigraphic and structural framework of Red Ridge and expanded understanding of deformation at the northern termination of the Walker Lake domain. The Tertiary strata included late Oligocene ash-flow tuffs and Miocene volcanic rocks correlated to, and dextrally offset from, Terrill Mountains stratigraphy. Several ash-flow tuffs correlate with regionally extensive units and provide opportunity for future paleomagnetic study. Similar to the southern Terrill Mountains, northeasterly-striking normal faults appear kinematically linked to major northwest-striking dextral faults and accommodate diffusion of dextral strain and basin development. The detailed mapping of the Red Ridge area has provided a firm foundation for future structural analysis and paleomagnetic study of the region.

This map was partially funded by the National Science Foundation.

New Geologic Map—Bradys Geothermal Area, Churchill County

Preliminary Geologic Map of the Bradys Geothermal Area, Churchill County, Nevada
Authors: James E. Faulds, Alan R. Ramelli, Mark F. Coolbaugh, Nicholas H. Hinz, Larry J. Garside, and John H. Queen
Year: 2017
Series: Open-File Report 2017-04
Format: plate: 51 x 39 inches, color, with cross sections; text: 6 pages, color
Scale: 1:12,000
Free download/purchase:

The Bradys geothermal field lies in the northern Hot Springs Mountains ~80 km northeast of Reno in Churchill County, Nevada.  The field has a reservoir temperature of 180-193°C at 1- to 2-km depth and currently supports a combined dual flash and binary geothermal power plant with a total installed capacity of 26 MWe, as well as a vegetable dehydration plant.  The power plant has been in operation since 1992.  The detailed geologic map and cross sections of the Bradys geothermal field illustrate the linkages between permeability and a complex structural setting dominated by a left step in a normal fault zone but also including several fault intersections within a broader accommodation zone.  Seismic reflection data and re-logging of cuttings and core from 34 wells were incorporated into the cross sections.  A previously published 1:24,000-scale geologic map of the Desert Peak quadrangle only included the easternmost part of the Bradys geothermal field.  The purpose of this map is to show the entire geothermal field at a finer scale (1:12,000) sufficient to illustrate multiple geothermal features, such as the complex faulting, sinter, warm ground, and fumaroles.  Unpublished versions of this map and cross sections have served as the foundation for previously published, 3D structural modeling and 3D gravity inversion of the Bradys geothermal field.

This project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Ormat Technologies, Inc., and the U.S. Geological Survey STATEMAP Program.

The Geothermal Technologies Office Announces Play Fairway Analysis Phase III Selections

The Geothermal Technologies Office Announces Play Fairway Analysis Phase III Selections

Release from the US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (July 20, 2017):

“The U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) announced it will continue funding for 5 projects aligned with Phase III Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) activities. GTO will award up to $5 million in additional funding to five of the original 11 projects from the 2014 PFA Funding Opportunity Announcement. The awards will address the overarching theme of uncertainty quantification and reduction in geothermal exploration, specifically through the development of Geothermal Play Fairways.

The concept of “play fairway analysis” has been used to identify potential locations of blind hydrothermal systems in the western U.S. A play fairway analysis defines levels of uncertainty with respect to the presence and utility of geothermal system elements, and translates them into maps to high grade the geographic area over which the most favorable combinations of heat, permeability, and fluid are thought to exist. Phase III moves the projects into an exploratory drilling campaign that will test the Phase I and II developed models’ ability to discover new resources. Once identified, hydrothermal resources can be brought online quickly with current technologies, supporting the near-term expansion of renewable energy in America.

This systematic approach early in the exploration process can reduce costly drilling and improve the probability of successfully tapping the vital mix of high temperatures and sufficient water flow necessary to generate electricity from geothermal energy. By improving success rates for exploration drilling, this data-mapping tool will help attract investment in geothermal projects and significantly lower the costs of geothermal energy.

The selected Phase III awardees are:

Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, University of Nevada‐Reno – Reno, Nevada
Utah State University – Logan, Utah
University of Hawaii – Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Utah – EGI Great Basin – Salt Lake City, Utah
Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources – Olympia, Washington”

Drilling to Begin in University’s Great Basin Geothermal Exploration Project

Drilling to Begin in University’s Great Basin Geothermal Exploration Project:
Led by Jim Faulds and NBMG
College of Science Receives $1.5 Million from DOE for Phase III of Project to Find “Blind” Systems

Nevada Today, 8/14/2017, by Mike Wolterbeek

“The University of Nevada, Reno received funding to begin drilling geothermal test wells this fall in the final phase of a multi-year research project to refine exploration strategies and reduce the risks in developing new geothermal systems capable of producing commercial electricity in Nevada’s Great Basin.

In July, the Department of Energy announced funding for the continuation of the Nevada Play Fairway Project, which seeks to find geographic areas over which the most favorable combinations of heat, permeability and fluid are thought to exist, but no obvious surface signs would indicate an underground geothermal reservoir. These are known as “blind” or “hidden” geothermal systems and are thought to represent the bulk of the region’s geothermal resources. These blind systems don’t have wet marshy areas or other surface clues, such as hot springs or fumaroles spouting steam.

Phase III moves the project into an exploratory drilling campaign that will test the ability of the models developed in Phase I and II to discover new resources. The University, through their Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, received $1.5 million from the DOE to finish the third and final phase of the renewable energy project.

“We’re excited to be chosen to continue this work,” Jim Faulds, lead scientist on the project and director of the University’s Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, said. “We are striving to improve exploration strategies for conventional geothermal systems in order to facilitate development of new geothermal power plants at reduced risks and costs to the geothermal industry.”

The Play Fairway project, administered by the DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office, has the promise of yielding significant results to target geothermal well sites with temperatures greater than 130 degrees Celsius (266oF), the typical temperature for a productive well to produce electricity. The project seeks to identify new, economically viable geothermal systems in the state. Geothermal is truly renewable energy. Conventional geothermal systems extract the hot water from underground, exchange the heat and return the fluid back underground.

“There is potential in the Great Basin for much greater amounts of geothermal energy than the current 670 MW produced from the 25 power plants already in place,” Faulds said. “The geothermal wealth of this region can be attributed to its active faulting, which allows hot fluids to rise more quickly to levels accessible through drilling.  The Play Fairway project can potentially provide a catalyst for accelerating geothermal development in the region.”

“Due to its tectonic setting, Nevada is richly endowed in geothermal resources,” Faulds, who is also the Nevada State Geologist and a professor in the University’s College of Science, said. “However, many of the obvious sites, for example near surface hot springs, have already been discovered. Because most of the geothermal resources in the Great Basin region are blind, it’s important to characterize the favorable characteristics of the known systems and then utilize that information to discover new systems hidden beneath the surface.”

Mapping Renewable Energy

The Play Fairway Project began in 2015 with mapping and analysis of a 40,000 square mile section of the Nevada Great Basin, which identified a few hundred viable sites for geothermal activity using nine critical parameters. In the second phase of the study, Faulds and his team – which includes several other faculty, graduate and undergraduate students at the University – scoured their geothermal potential map and narrowed the study to 24 of the most promising sites in several areas and then narrowed that to five particularly promising areas. They found evidence for commercial-grade geothermal systems at all five of these sites. Phase III will now test their methodologies with drilling at two or possibly three of these sites.

To choose the final sites for drilling, the team looked at proximity to existing electrical transmission corridors, excluded sensitive habitat and wilderness areas, and reviewed permeability factors and other geological, geophysical and geochemical features indicative of geothermal activity.

“In Phase III, we’ll do the drilling to test the methodologies that we’ve used in phases one and two,” Faulds said. “We’ll be drilling temperature gradient wells, to see if we have hot water, from about 500 to 750 feet deep. Full development of a geothermal system usually requires drilling to much greater depths (a mile or more) and is much more expensive, but the presence of commercial-grade systems can usually be identified at 500 to 750 feet deep. If proven, this play fairway methodology then can be adopted by companies and they can invest in exploration and development with more confidence.”

The first two drilling sites are in northern Granite Springs Valley, about 25 miles west of Lovelock, and in southern Gabbs Valley, southwest of the town of Gabbs. The other sites are in the Sou Hills just north of Dixie Valley, Crescent Valley and Steptoe Valley. The team will initiate drilling this fall and finish by the end of next summer. They will also complete new geophysical surveys, with the nine attributes as a guide. The final report is scheduled to be complete in March 2019.

Other institutions selected to continue their Play Fairway project are Utah State University, University of Hawaii, University of Utah and Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources.

“The work conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno under the Play Fairway program has resulted in the advancement of geothermal exploration technologies and the discovery of several new and exciting geothermal prospects within the Great Basin,” Michael Weathers, Technology Manager with the Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office, said. “This work has delivered a blueprint for managing risk in geothermal exploration that can be applied beyond the Great Basin to expand our domestic energy resources. GTO looks forward to monitoring this methodology as it is validated in the upcoming drilling phase of the project and the eventual adoption by others in the geothermal industry.”