Geothermal Exploration

Topics of Research:

GIS Synthesis
Multi and Hyperspectral Image Analysis
Geophysics and Structure of Geothermal Fields
Geochemistry

Other Geothermal Research at UNR: Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy

GIS Synthesis

Regional Assessment of Exploration Potential for Geothermal Systems in Nevada using a Geographic Information System (GIS). Collaborators: James V. Taranik, Mark F. Coolbaugh, Gary L. Raines, Lisa A. Shevenell, Don L. Sawatzky, Tim B. Minor, and Richard Bedell. Funded by DOE.

Summary of Research: A geographic information system (GIS) is being used to integrate diverse types of geologic, chemical, and physical information to predict where high-temperature geothermal systems are most likely to occur in the Great Basin of western North America. Spatial analysis using weights-of-evidence and logistic regression is being used to quantify relationships between geothermal systems and the map data and clarify the conditions necessary for the formation of high-temperature geothermal systems.

Multi and Hyperspectral Image Analysis

Testing unique surface identifiers for geothermal site characterization from remote sensing imagery. Collaborators: Wendy Calvin and Mark F. Coolbaugh (both of UNR), and Bill Pickles, LLNL: funded by DOE.

Summary of Research: Hyperspectral and multispectral remote sensing, in the visible, near-infrared, and thermal infrared ranges, is being used to identify anomalous surface features related to active geothermal systems. These features include areas of high heat flow (thermal anomalies), diagnostic rocks (sinter and evaporite assemblages), hydrothermal alteration (alunite and clay minerals), and vegetation anomalies.

Geophysics and Structure of Geothermal Fields

Structural and Geophysical Analysis of the Desert Peak-Brady Geothermal Field: Identifying links between northeast-trending structures and geothermal anomalies in the Great Basin Collaborators: James Faulds (PI), Larry Garside (PI), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG), Gary Oppliger (PI), Department of Geological Science, UNR

Summary of Research: An integrated geologic, geophysical, and GIS investigation of the Desert Peak-Brady geothermal field in the Hot Springs Mountains of western Nevada. The geologic and gravity studies, as well as existing drill-hole, temperature, and electrical conductivity data, will be incorporated into a GIS database. Collectively, these data sets will permit comprehensive three-dimensional visualization and modeling of the geothermal field.
(Please, visit Dr. Oppliger's Research page for more information.)

Geochemical Characterization of Magmatic-related vs. Extension-related Geothermal Systems in the Great Basin: Implications for Exploration, Exploitation, and Environmental Issues Collaborators: Greg B. Arehart, Mark F. Coolbaugh, and Simon R. Poulson: funded by DOE.

Summary of Research: This research will identify the distinguishing chemical characteristics of magmatic and extensional geothermal systems, and relate those differences to differences in host rock lithologies, magma compositions, or other physical and chemical parameters. The significance those differences have for exploration, exploitation, and effects on the environment is being reviewed.

Targeting of potential geothermal resources in the Great Basin from regional relationships between geodetic strain and geological structures. Collaborators: Geoff Blewitt and Mark F. Coolbaugh: funded by DOE.

Summary of Research: The ability of GPS-based measurements of geodetic strain to identify zones of crustal extension, and the role those zones of extension play in controlling geothermal activity, is being investigated. The Quaternary structural fabric of Nevada is being used to help constrain the mode and location of strain.

Geochemistry

Geochemical Characterization of Magmatic-related vs. Extension-related Geothermal Systems in the Great Basin: Implications for Exploration, Exploitation, and Environmental Issues. Collaborators: Greg B. Arehart, Mark F. Coolbaugh, and Simon R. Poulson: funded by DOE.

Summary of Research: This research will identify the distinguishing chemical characteristics of magmatic and extensional geothermal systems, and relate those differences to differences in host rock lithologies, magma compositions, or other physical and chemical parameters. The significance those differences have for exploration, exploitation, and effects on the environment is being reviewed.