Meet the Geothermal Energy Center’s new director: Bridget Ayling took over the director position at the GBCGE last spring


News from Nevada Today
Article by Michael Olinger, Nevada Today, 1/3/2017

“The Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy got a new director last spring, and she travelled a long road to get to her new post.

Bridget Ayling was born in New Zealand. She has worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Antarctica.

“I think I’ve been really lucky to travel to some amazing places just through my job, you know, and get to some pretty rugged places to do science,” Ayling said. “Everywhere you go, every country you go to, it’s a new landscape.”Bridget Ayling

The high desert of the Great Basin is the latest landscape to welcome Ayling, who has been interested in geology from a young age. Early fascination with limestone rocks and the fossils contained therein was met with encouragement by her parents, who fostered it with the gift of numerous books.

Ayling has spent over a decade working in the geothermal energy sector, most of that time for the Australian government. After dabbling briefly in the oil and gas industries, she saw the post at the GBCGE as a unique chance to get back into the geothermal work that she loves.

“Nevada is a state that has many geothermal resources,” Ayling said. “We’re really richly endowed with geothermal.”

Since her arrival at the University, Ayling has been hard at work on a number of projects, such as reviving the National Geothermal Academy, which operated on campus from 2011 to 2014 before going dormant for the last two years. The academy is a summer program where students spend time studying drilling and reservoir engineering for geothermal energy. She is also a member of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Additionally, Ayling has been working on the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (or FORGE) project, a Department of Energy initiative seeking to develop a field test site for geothermal system technology development and testing. A site in Fallon was one of five potential test sites initially chosen by the DOE, who narrowed their options to two in September, with Fallon being one of those sites. Ayling and the GBCGE are currently waiting to see if their site is the one ultimately chosen by the DOE.

As of the fall semester, Ayling has not taught any classes, but that is set to change in the spring. Ayling’s class, Geology 407/607, will focus on Earth’s energy resources. She describes it as “a pretty ‘big picture’ course.”

She is also working to set up her own independent research that will shape the center.

“It takes time to build a team and have visions for what it can be in the future,” Ayling said. “It’s going to take time to realize that and actually get the funding to support it. It’s fairly small, and my key areas so far have been doing a fair bit of outreach, so doing talks at public forums, like the Geological Society of Nevada. I’ve talked up at the Desert Research Institute. Conference talks, that kind of thing. So, a bit of outreach to raise awareness that we have a center. It exists, and I’m here, and hopefully going to take it to some pretty cool places.”

University research professor Jim Faulds, a colleague of Ayling, is very happy about the work that she has done so far, and the work that lays ahead.

“She has hit the ground running at the University and is already pursuing many new opportunities in geothermal research that will earn enormous rewards for the state and Great Basin region,” Faulds said.

Ayling shares Faulds’ enthusiasm.

“The Great Basin Center is an exciting place to be,” she said. “I think to be here in Reno and to be director of the center is great.”

Andrew Sadowski Thesis Defense—May 2

Structural Controls of Black Warrior Geothermal System
Washoe-Churchill Counties, Truckee Range, Northwestern Nevada, USA
Masters Thesis Defense by Andrew J. Sadowski
Advisor: Jim Faulds, NBMG Director and State Geologist
Monday, May 2, 2016, 3:00 p.m., LME 417 at University of Nevada, Reno

The Black Warrior geothermal system lies 20 km east of the southern end of Pyramid Lake in the Truckee Range of northwestern Nevada on the Washoe-Churchill county line. It is an amagmatic blind geothermal system, as the region lacks recent (<5 Ma) volcanism and the system lacks hydrothermal surface manifestations (no fumaroles, hot springs, sinter deposits, or high temperature alteration). The system was discovered by shallow temperature gradient drilling (100-600 m, max temp: 128°C) by Phillips Petroleum Company in the 1980s and observed with a 2-m shallow temperature survey circa 2011.

The thermal anomaly resides in a structurally complex zone that has not been previously characterized. Detailed geologic mapping in the area has identified faults and stratigraphic relationships between successive and interfingering Tertiary volcanic sequences that nonconformably overlie Mesozoic igneous intrusive and metamorphic basement. The structural framework is characterized by north-northeast-striking, moderately to steeply west-dipping normal faults that terminate and step in the vicinity of the thermal anomaly. This suggests two possible favorable structural settings: (1) a fault termination of the southeastern range-front fault with accompanying horse-tail splaying producing an area with abundant closely spaced faults and high fracture permeability; and/or (2) a fault step-over in a broad left-step of the major normal faults, whereby many closely-spaced minor faults provide hard linkage and a zone of high fracture permeability. In either case, the study area lies in a favorable structural setting for geothermal activity and may host a robust geothermal system at depth.

Outdoor Nevada on PBS—Jim Faulds on Geothermal Activity, March 23, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.


The Outdoor Nevada episode airing on March 23, 2016 on the Las Vegas PBS station will feature geothermal activity in Nevada, with segments on both the geology and biology of these systems.

NBMG Director and State Geologist Dr. Jim Faulds will team with UNLV microbiologist Dr. Brian Hedlund[] for this presentation.

You can watch this episode Wednesday March 23 at 7:30 p.m. on Vegas PBS Channel 10. In the next couple of months, the show will air on KNPB for northern Nevada as well.

The link will be available on their website the day the show broadcasts. We will also send that link in our next email.

Outdoor Nevada website:[]

“Hosted by highly regarded television host and actor John Burke, Outdoor Nevada will delve into the Silver State’s natural history and present-day happenings as experts discuss awe-inspiring discoveries in one of the planet’s most unique and often extreme environments.”

Past episodes of Outdoor Nevada:[][]

New Geologic Map Released—Seven Troughs

Preliminary Geologic Map of the Southern and Central Seven Troughs Range, Potential Geothermal Area, Pershing County, Nevada

Authors: Corina Forson, James E. Faulds, and Mitchell D. Allen
Year: 2015
Series: Open-File Report 15-6
Format: plate: 42 x 41 inches, color; text: 6 pages, b/w
Scale: 1:24,000

The Seven Troughs Range resides in the northwestern Basin and Range province 190 km northeast of Reno and 50 km northwest of Lovelock in western Nevada. There is no known geothermal system in the area. Mesozoic metasedimentary strata and intrusions dominate the northern and southern parts of the range, but are nonconformably overlain by a thick sequence (~1.5 km) of Oligocene to Miocene volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks and Quaternary sediments in the central part of the range. The southern part of the range consists of a basement horst block bounded by two major range-front faults, with Holocene fault scarps marking the more prominent fault on the east side of the range. In contrast, several gently to moderately west-tilted fault blocks, with good exposures of the Tertiary volcanic strata and bounded by a series of steeply east-dipping normal faults, characterize the central part of the range. Kinematic analysis of faults in the range and regional relations indicate a west-northwest-trending extension direction. Accordingly, slip and dilation tendency analyses suggest that north-northeast striking faults are the most favorably oriented for reactivation and fluid flow under the current stress field (Forson, 2014; Forson et al., 2014).

Two areas in the Seven Troughs Range have a favorable structural setting for generating permeability and channeling geothermal fluids to the near surface (Forson, 2014): 1) A major right step in the range-front fault and concomitant fault intersection on the east side of the Seven Troughs Range. Slightly elevated 2-m-deep temperatures (~15°C vs. background temperatures of 11–12°C) have been found in this vicinity. 2) A left step in the range-front fault and attendant fault termination on the west side of the range in the vicinity of Porter Spring. This area has the highest recorded 2-m-deep temperatures (~19°C). Although the 2-m temperature survey does not reflect the presence of hot geothermal fluids near the surface at these locations, a 2D low resistivity MT (Wannamaker et al., 2011) anomaly and the favorable structural settings warrant further analysis for potentially blind geothermal systems in the area.

This map was prepared with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

To view, download, or purchase map, please click here.

Nevada Mineral Industry 2013 now available!


Title: The Nevada mineral industry 2013
John L. Muntean, David A. Davis, Lisa Shevenell, and Alexandra Reid
Year: 2015
Series: Mineral Industry MI-2013
Format: 158 pages, includes color

Starting in 1979, NBMG has issued annual reports that describe mineral and geothermal activities and accomplishments in Nevada, and include statistics of known gold and silver deposits. This report describes mineral, oil and gas, and geothermal activities and accomplishments in Nevada in 2013: production statistics, exploration and development including drilling for petroleum and geothermal resources, discoveries of orebodies, new mines opened, and expansion and other activities of existing mines. Statistics of known gold and silver deposits, and directories of mines and mills are included.

View or purchase MI-2013 here:

New geologic map: Emerson Pass geothermal area, Washoe County

Open-File Report 13-10 (second edition)

Preliminary geologic map of the central Lake Range, southern Fox Range, and northern Terraced Hills, Emerson Pass geothermal area, Washoe County, Nevada, by Ryan B. Anderson, James E. Faulds, and Gregory M. Dering, 2014


Detailed geologic mapping and stratigraphic-structural analyses have elucidated the kinematics, stress state, and structural controls of a “blind” geothermal system in Emerson Pass on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation, western Nevada. The Emerson Pass area resides near the boundary of the Basin and Range and Walker Lane provinces of northwestern Nevada, at the northeast end of Pyramid Lake. Strata of the surrounding Fox Range, Lake Range, and Terraced Hills are comprised of late Miocene to Pliocene sedimentary rocks and the middle Miocene Pyramid sequence volcanic rocks, all overlying Cretaceous intrusions and Triassic to Jurassic metasedimentary rocks.

The active geothermal system is expressed as a 2-m shallow temperature thermal anomaly (maximum ∼60°C) that lies at the western edge of a broad left step at the northeast end of Pyramid Lake between the north- to north-northeast-striking, west-dipping, Fox and Lake Range normal faults. The 2-m temperature surveys have defined a north-south elongate thermal anomaly that resides on a north- to north-northeast-striking normal fault. Additionally, travertine mounds, chalcedonic silica veins, and silica-cemented Pleistocene lacustrine gravels in Emerson Pass indicate a robust geothermal system active at the surface in the recent past, likely the early Holocene. Structural complexity and spatial heterogeneities of the strain and stress field have developed in the step-over region, but kinematic data suggest a west-northwest-trending (∼280° azimuth) extension direction. The geothermal system is likely hosted in Emerson Pass as a result of enhanced permeability generated by the intersection of two oppositely dipping, southward- terminating north- to north-northwest-striking (Fox Range fault) and north-northeast-striking normal faults.

This publication was prepared with support from the U.S. Department of Energy. We thank the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation for access to tribal lands and logistical support throughout the project.

Geochronologic data (several 40Ar/39Ar dates) were added to this second edition.

Open-File Report 13-10 (second edition, 2014) supersedes the first edition (2013).

Open-File Report 13-10 (second edition), one color plate with 3 cross sections, 51.5 x 39.5 inches, scale 1:24,000; inset map, scale 1:8,000; 10-page text, b/w, $22.00 for paper copy—or free on the Web:

Nevada Mineral Industry 2012


MI-2012: The Nevada Mineral Industry 2012, by John L. Muntean, David A. Davis, Lisa Shevenell, and Benjamin McDonald, 2014

Starting in 1979, NBMG has issued annual reports that describe mineral and geothermal activities and accomplishments in Nevada, and include statistics of known gold and silver deposits.

This report describes mineral, oil and gas, and geothermal activities and accomplishments in Nevada in 2012: production statistics, exploration and development including drilling for petroleum and geothermal resources, discoveries of orebodies, new mines opened, and expansion and other activities of existing mines. Statistics of known gold and silver deposits, and directories of mines and mills are included.

Available free on the Web:

Special Publication MI-2012, 177 pages (includes 19 pages in color)