Tag Archive | Geothermal

National Geothermal Academy 2019—deadlines May 24 and June 3

A message from Dr. Bridget Ayling, Director of the GBCGE: The National Geothermal Academy will be running again in 2019, with a geoscience focus. Partial support from the US Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office has reduced the course enrollment fees substantially this year.

Module 1: Geothermal Geostatistics
Dates: 10-14th June 2019 (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Instructors: Dr. Cary Lindsey and Dr. Whitney Trainor-Guitton

This course aims to teach geoscience and engineering students and professionals how to perform exploratory statistical analysis on a variety of datasets relevant to geothermal exploration and production, as well as how to create 2D and 3D statistical models from these data. Participants will work in teams to complete exercises using various types of industry-relevant data from geothermal sites around the world such as thermal data, fluid chemistry and alteration mineralogy. In addition to exercises throughout the course, the participants will work in teams to create 2D and 3D temperature and reservoir models using geostatistical methods as capstone projects. Participants will learn to design and carry out geo- and spatial statistics and visualizations in the R, ArcGIS, and SGeMS software environments.

Module 2: Geothermal Geophysics
Dates: 17th-21st June 2019 (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Instructors: Dr. Joe Batir, Dr. David Blackwell, Karen Christopherson, and Dr. Jeff Witter

This course aims to teach geoscience and engineering students and professionals the fundamentals of geophysical techniques commonly used in geothermal exploration and resource development, specifically thermal geophysics, magnetotellurics (MT), gravity and magnetics. In addition to traditional lectures and group discussions, course participants will complete hands-on exercises throughout the week to consolidate their learning.

Course cost:  USD $1000 per module

Applications from students (2 credits per module) due by 24 May 2019.

Applications from professionals (certificate) due by 3 June 2019.

Applications accepted only until course is filled (capped at 25 participants).

Visit https://gbcge.org/education/ for course outlines and course enrollment forms, and email geothermal@unr.edu with any questions.


Nevada in More Hot Water: Geothermal Industry Gets Boost with Discoveries of ‘Blind’ Systems

Nevada in more hot water: Geothermal industry gets boost with discoveries of ‘blind’ systems—
College of Science team is successful with new exploration methods for renewable energy

By Mike Wolterbeek (Nevada Today, 5/21/2019)

Geothermal power potential in Nevada is heating up – with two successful discoveries in the Great Basin by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology using a previously untried method for finding unknown, hidden geothermal resources.

Both discovered systems are blind – meaning there are no surface indications of hot water – and there had been no exploration previously in one of these areas and only minor previous exploration in the other. Geologists at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno, used a number of other surface and subsurface clues in their methodology developed as part of their Department of Energy funded Play Fairway project that has been underway since 2014.

“The exploration, the mapping, the analysis, all led us to the top two spots – of perhaps hundreds of potential sites – to drill geothermal wells,” Jim Faulds, director of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, said. “Success at two sites provides an initial validation of the methodology we developed, and opens up new possibilities for power generation sites by the industry.”

The third and final phase of the project involved temperature-gradient drilling generally to approximately 500-foot depths. Data from all three phases of the project has been analyzed and will help guide industry to the most favorable sites to generate renewable energy in the large study area, which covers about one-third of the state of Nevada. Measurements from the new geothermal wells have been completed, the wells capped and waiting for industry to step in. Now that these blind geothermal systems have been discovered, it’s up to the geothermal industry to conduct additional drilling for possible development of a geothermal power plant.

Geothermal energy is one of the more stable types of alternative energy, with the system extracting hot water from underground, bringing it to the surface exchanging the heat to create electrical power, then returning it to the deep underground aquifer. This is a 24/7 process that isn’t reliant on sunshine, wind or battery technology.

New Geothermal Systems Ready for Industry

“It’s gratifying to demonstrate positive results of applied science here at the Bureau,” Faulds said. “After several years of research, mapping and analysis, we’ve identified many promising areas that have great potential for geothermal power. Funds only allowed for test drilling at two sites, but there are dozens of other promising sites that I’m excited about across the region. The two sites, one in southeastern Gabbs Valley and the other in northern Granite Springs Valley, are now ready for industry to decide on their economic viability.”

McGinness Hills, currently the largest geothermal system in Nevada northeast of Austin, produces about 140 megawatts of electrical power and is also a hidden geothermal system with no surface hot springs or steam vents. The newly discovered system in southeastern Gabbs Valley system is probably not as large as that at McGinness Hills, but Faulds thinks that it is likely that many other systems as large as McGinness are yet to be discovered.

“There is potential in the Great Basin for much greater amounts of geothermal energy than the current 720 MW of capacity from about 25 power plants already in place,” Faulds said. “The geothermal wealth of this region can be attributed to its active faulting and thinning of the crust, which allows hot fluids to rise more quickly to levels accessible through drilling. The Play Fairway project provides a catalyst for accelerating geothermal development in the region.

“The industry is now looking at Gabbs. It’s not our job to develop the resource, but rather  to assess geothermal resources and identify the systems, so industry can take over and develop energy for Nevada and neighboring states.”

The play fairway method includes the study of many geological and geophysical attributes of a region, including the location of earthquake faults. In Gabbs Valley, there is a major subsurface fault intersection. Most geothermal systems in the Great Basin are affiliated with Quaternary faults, faults that have been recognized at the surface and that have moved in the past million years or so, a portion of the Quaternary time period.

After determining the best places to drill in 2018, Faulds and his team worked with a crew from the U.S. Geological Survey to drill a series of wells across the geothermal system. Six holes each were drilled at both the Gabbs and Granite Springs Valley sites.

“We bracketed the system with drilling to better define its size and potential power capacity,” Faulds said.

The Granite Springs site is not as well defined as Gabbs.

“It wasn’t a bullseye like Gabbs, finding the center was harder,” Faulds said. “It might require more drilling to pinpoint, but both systems are quite hot at relatively shallow depths, 124 degrees Centigrade (255 degrees Fahrenheit) at 500 feet at Gabbs and 95 degrees Centigrade (203 degrees Fahrenheit) at similar depths for Granite Springs Valley. Geochemical data suggest higher temperatures for each site at greater depths.”

Much of the Gabbs Valley project was carried out by Jason Craig for his master’s thesis. This project was a great collaborative effort, Faulds said, between several Bureau of Mines and Geology faculty and graduate students at the University, as well as several other organizations, such as the U.S. Geological Survey.

This project was funded by a Department of Energy grant through their Geothermal Technologies Office. Collaborations with the geothermal industry, including Ormat, Nevada Inc. and U.S. Geothermal were also beneficial to this study.

The DOE has funded multiple play fairway analysis studies throughout the United States, going back to 2014, and several institutions around the west have developed their own play fairway methods. The DOE program started with about 10 separate funded projects, and five were selected to continue work in the final third phase, including the Bureau of Mines and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Machine-Learning for Geothermal Exploration

As part of their analysis, Faulds and his team used a few basic machine-learning techniques during the play fairway project, and now have plans to step up this effort with a newly funded project from the DOE. The project is intended to apply artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques to geothermal exploration to identify previously unrecognized connections between the various datasets.

“This is like icing on the cake of our very successful geothermal play fairway project,” Faulds said. “This new project is aimed at facilitating additional discoveries of geothermal systems in Nevada using machine learning methods and builds on our previous efforts on geothermal play fairways in the region.

“This machine learning project is hopefully the first phase of a long-term, multi-phase program. This first phase is funded at $500,000.”

For this project, Faulds has assembled a team of scientists from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, USGS and experts in machine learning from MIT and the oil industry. Machine learning is a technique that teaches computers to analyze data, learn from the data and improve their performance through adaptation. The hope is that there will be higher success rates in geothermal exploration leading to greater efficiency and lower costs for geothermal exploration and development.

The mission of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology is to provide the citizens of Nevada with geologic information on geologic hazards and natural resources both to protect the public and facilitate, diversify and enhance Nevada’s economic future. NBMG is a statewide public service unit that applies its expertise to the entire state as a division of the University of Nevada, Reno and resides in the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering in the College of Science. Since its inception in 1929, it has served as the State Geologic Survey of Nevada and a Bureau of information and analysis for geologic data throughout the state.

The Nevada Mineral Industry 2017

Authors: John L. Muntean, David A. Davis and Bridget Ayling
Year: 2018
Series: Mineral Industry MI-2017
Format: 212 pages, includes color, plastic comb-bound report


Starting in 1979, NBMG has issued annual reports that describe the mineral (precious and base metals and industrial minerals including aggregate), oil and gas, and geothermal activities and accomplishments.

This report describes those accomplishments in Nevada for 2017, which includes production, reserve, and resource 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; and a directory of mines and mills.

Preparation for this publication was supported by the Nevada Division of Minerals.

New NBMG Publication – Sparkling or Still? A Tour of Geology from Soda Lakes to Stillwater Marsh, Nevada

Sparkling or Still? A Tour of Geology from Soda Lakes to Stillwater Marsh, Nevada
By Craig M. dePolo, Christopher D. Henry, Andrew V. Zuza, Rachel E. Micander, and James E. Faulds
Year: 2018
Series: Educational Series 63
Format: 25 pages, color
View/purchase: http://pubs.nbmg.unr.edu/Sparkling-or-still-p/e063.htm

Soda Lake Volcanic Maar

Soda Lake. Photo: Rachel Micander

Geoscientists from Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology explained the geology of the Fallon area in celebration of Earth Science Week 2018 and the importance of earth sciences to the people of the state of Nevada.

If you missed this interesting field trip, you can use this guide to explore the area on your own.

Major stops on this field trip will include the following:

  • Salt Wells geothermal power plant
  • Rainbow Mountain earthquake fault scarp
  • “Nevada Wonderstone” rockhounding locality
  • “Big Dig” flood mitigation project in Lahontan Valley
  • Rattlesnake Hill, a “young” (<1 million year old) volcanic cinder cone and lava flow complex overlooking Fallon
  • Soda Lake volcanoes (youngest in Nevada!)

NPGS Monthly Dinner Meeting—Thursday, October 4

Nevada Petroleum and Geothermal Society (NPGS)
Monthly Dinner Meeting
Thursday, October 4
Speaker: Jim Faulds
Topic: Geothermal Journeys through New Zealand and Nevada: Similarities and Differences in Geothermal Activity between Magmatic and Non-Magmatic Rifts

A message from NPGS: Please join us on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at the Tamarack Junction for cocktails, dinner and lecture by Jim Faulds on “Geothermal Journeys through New Zealand and Nevada: Similarities and Differences in Geothermal Activity between Magmatic and Non-Magmatic Rifts.”

Bio: Jim Faulds is the Nevada State Geologist, Director of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG), and Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). NBMG is a research and public service unit of UNR and is the state geological survey of Nevada. Faulds is a structural geologist with 30+ years of experience. He has been with UNR and NBMG since 1997, first as Professor and then serving as NBMG Director since 2012. He earned his B.S. at the University of Montana, M.S. at the University of Arizona, and Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico. He has studied crustal deformation in many parts of the world, including much of the western U.S., western Turkey, and New Zealand. His research has focused on how fault systems initiate and evolve through time. In recent years, he has been analyzing the structural controls and exploration strategies of geothermal systems in the western U.S., Turkey, New Zealand, and elsewhere. He recently returned from sabbatical in New Zealand, where he worked with GNS Science and the University of Canterbury. At Canterbury, he held an Erskine Teaching Fellowship. He has published over 100 papers and dozens of geologic maps on extensional and strike-slip tectonics, as well as the structural controls on geothermal activity. He has also taught courses in structural geology, tectonics, geothermal exploration, and field geology, while serving as advisor for more than 25 graduate students.

Abstract: The Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ) in New Zealand and Great Basin region, USA, represent two premier geothermal provinces on Earth. Both reside in extensional to transtensional settings. The TVZ occupies a dynamic intra-arc rift setting with relatively high rates of extension and voluminous volcanism. The Great Basin region is part of the Basin and Range province and characterized by relatively modest rates of extension and sparse volcanism. Recent magmatism provides heat for many geothermal systems in the TVZ and generates temperatures locally in excess of 300ºC. In contrast, the Great Basin is characterized by non-magmatic geothermal systems with temperatures generally less than 225ºC.

In the Great Basin, nearly 90% of geothermal systems are controlled by four major structural settings: 1) normal fault step-overs or relay ramps; 2) terminations of major normal faults; 3) fault intersections; and 4) accommodation zones. Notably, ~39% of known geothermal systems are blind with no surface hot springs or fumaroles, with estimates suggesting that 75% of geothermal resources are blind. Many blind systems are hidden in basins and obscured by young sediments. Play fairway analysis, whereby multiple geologic and geophysical parameters are combined to identify highly prospective area, holds significant promise of identifying new geothermal systems and reducing the risks of geothermal exploration in this region. This methodology recently resulted in discovery of at least one new blind system.

In the TVZ, similar structural settings (normal fault step-overs, fault tips, and accommodation zones) have been documented for many geothermal fields. Such settings may generally be less impactful, however, in areas of recent magmatism. Structural settings are obscured for some robust systems (e.g. Rotokawa and Wai-O-Tapu) by young volcanic deposits. Active magmatism also produces a suite of additional favorable settings, including dike tips and intersections between normal faults and caldera margins. Blind systems may be relatively common in the TVZ, with impermeable clay caps and thick permeable volcanic deposits at depth precluding venting of some systems. Preliminary maps of favorable structural settings serve as a proxy for potential blind systems in the TVZ. Play fairway analysis, incorporating multiple geologic and geophysical parameters, may ultimately facilitate discovery of new geothermal systems in the TVZ.

Date: Thursday, Oct 4, 2018
Time: 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Cocktails at 6:30 pm, hosted by Geo Drilling Fluids
Dinner is served at 7:00 pm
Location: Tamarack Junction
13101 South Virginia Street
Reno, NV  89511

Cocktail Host: This month’s cocktail hour is sponsored by Don Boulet of Geo Drilling Fluids. Thank you Don and Geo Drilling Fluids for your continued support of NPGS!

Pricing – Registration (Sep 20, 2018 – Oct 3, 2018)
Registrant Type and Price
NPGS Member – Prepay, $25.00
NPGS Member – Pay at Door, $28.00
Non-Member – Prepay, $30.00
Non-Member – Pay at Door, $33.00
Student – $15.00

Register for Meeting:

Cancellation Policy: If you wish to cancel your registration, please contact Karen Loomis (karenloomis1@gmail.com) or Tom Gallagher (tomg@nevadawatersolutions.com) so we may have an accurate headcount for food and accommodations. At this time, NPGS is unable to offer refunds for prepaid registration. However, we are happy to provide a credit for future meetings.

Physics Today Article—Bridget Ayling Discusses EGS Potential

Bridget Ayling, Director of the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy and Associate Professor, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, was interviewed for this article in Physics Today.

Engineered Geothermal Systems Have Wide Potential as a Renewable Energy Source

Physics Today 71, 9, 22 (2018); https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.4017
“What will it take to put geothermal energy to use on a large scale? Iceland uses it nearly exclusively for heat and hot water and for about a fifth of its electricity (see related story on page 26). Many countries have geothermal projects. But the vast stores of heat deep beneath Earth’s surface remain largely untapped. “If we can unlock the technologies to make extracting heat in the subsurface technically and commercially viable on a large scale, the promise is huge,” says Bridget Ayling, director of the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at the University of Nevada, Reno. That’s why, she adds, “despite only incremental gains over the last 40 years, the geothermal community continues to pursue engineered geothermal systems,” or EGS, also known as enhanced geothermal systems.” –from Physics Today 71, 9, 22 (2018)

Read entire article here:

Nevada Petroleum and Geothermal Society Monthly Dinner Meeting: Thursday, March 1, 2018

  Emma McConville, Graduate Student, Geologist, UNR, Reno, NV
TOPIC:  Applications of the Play Fairway Analysis for Geothermal Systems in Crescent Valley, Eureka County, Nevada
ABSTRACT: Crescent Valley received one of the highest favorability scores in phase I of the DOE-sponsored Nevada play fairway analysis project and was therefore selected for detailed study in phase II. As part of the detailed study, geological, geochemical, and geophysical data were collected, synthesized, and analyzed to identify favorable structural settings for geothermal fluids in the basin. A total of nine favorable structural settings were identified. Two host known geothermal systems, and six could potentially host blind geothermal systems. In phase II a predictive geothermal potential model was conducted for each favorable structural setting. The highest-ranking areas in Crescent Valley are in the Dann Hot Springs step-over (relay ramp), followed by the two northern step-overs along the Cortez Mountains front, as well as a fault intersection at Hot Springs Point.

BIO: Emma McConville – Graduate Student, Geologist – UNR, Reno, NV
Emma was born in Barcelona, Spain and grew up throughout Latin America. When she was twelve years old she visited El Tatio Geysers in Chile and immediately became fascinated with geothermal energy and energy policy. In 2012 her interests landed her at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA, where she double majored and earned a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). After college, she worked at Endeavor Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar where she started the Endeavor Investor Network and coordinated the largest international private investment event in Mexico to date. Emma had the opportunity to explore the corners of Mexico and her travels reignited her love of the outdoors and geology. In 2013 she decided to refocus her career path and become a geologist. Emma earned a B.S. from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD where she was chosen to be the student speaker for the commencement ceremony for the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. During her time at the University of Maryland she interned at the Geothermal Energy Association, was awarded the NAGT-USGS internship in Menlo Park, CA, and was the coordinator of Girls Excelling in Math and Science, an afternoon program geared towards encouraging middle school girls to take an interest in STEM. In 2016, Emma began her graduate studies under the guidance of Jim Faulds and plans to earn her M.Sc. in Geology this upcoming summer. Emma has been offered a position as a geologist at ExxonMobil and will be moving to Houston, TX after completing her studies.

LOCATION: Tamarack Junction, Reno, NV
13101 S. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89511

Cocktail Reception 6:30 PM; Dinner Served at 7:00 PM
NPGS Members $25-$28; Non-Members $30-$33; Students $15

Please use this link to RSVP by Tuesday, Feb 27:

If you must cancel your reservation, please contact Jake Zachry, jzachry@kecorp.us or Tom Gallagher, tomg@nevadawatersolutions.com

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

Thursday, April 5
Vincent Ramirez, 3PL Operating, Inc.
Lake Livada and Other Lithium Exploration Activities in Nevada

Thursday, May 3
Jason Craig, UNR
Gabbs Valley – Blind Geothermal Prospect