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State Geothermal Resource Assessment and Data Collection Efforts

Stories by State

National Geothermal Data System Aids in Discovering Hawaii's Geothermal Resource (November 20, 2012)

National Geothermal Data System Contributes to Idaho Geological Survey Well Drilling Success (January 10, 2013)

EERE Funding Contributes to Latest Research on Geothermal Potential in Minnesota (March 29, 2012)

New Mexico
Through Contributions to the National Geothermal Data System, State Geologists Facilitate Renewable Energy Development in New Mexico (May 2, 2012)

New! Interactive Map Shows Oregon's Geothermal Resources (February 13, 2013)

Utah Offers Hope for More Potential Nationwide (September 24, 2012)

National Geothermal Data System Project Protects Vermont Data from Tropical Storm Irene (August 28, 2011)


National Geothermal Data System Aids in Discovering Hawaii's Geothermal Resource
November 20, 2012

A project funded by GTO may help reduce Hawaii's dependence on foreign oil by exploring geothermal power as a clean, baseload alternative. Hawaii has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest electricity costs in the nation due to its dependence on oil for its electric supply. But the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) is forging a connection between state agencies to aid transition to a more sustainable energy supply—one that, in time, will prove less costly than oil. The new data makes a critical case for geothermal development—Hawaii's only economically viable source of baseload power. Researchers at the University of Hawaii (UH) are spearheading a collaboration with public and private stakeholders to catalog new information on geothermal resources in Hawaii. One of the most significant goals of the project is a new state-wide assessment of geothermal resources. UH will conduct a broadlybased sequence of magnetotelluric surveys, characterizing geologic structures that are predicted to host geothermal resources and interpreting the information through prior geothermal data and site-specific hydrologic and geologic data. To date, the project has digitized roughly 1,000 geothermal reports for inclusion in the NGDS and digitized 3500 water wells in Hawaii to help with assessing Hawaii's geothermal resource potential.

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National Geothermal Data System Contributes to Idaho Geological Survey Well Drilling Success
January 10, 2013

The University of Idaho's Idaho Geological Survey recently drilled new wells in southeastern Idaho to provide the most accurate assessment of high-temperature geothermal energy potential in the region. Workers successfully completed installation of three wells in the Blackfoot-Gem Valley volcanic field of southeastern Idaho during the fourth quarter of 2012. The wells were drilled within an 18-mile radius of China Hat, a 60,000-year-old region of volcanic rock near Soda Springs, Idaho. The wells allow researchers to precisely measure heat coming out of the Earth, which will help them better understand Idaho's geologic framework, in addition to offering insight into the region's geothermal energy potential.

A key part of the drilling project's success has been the ongoing geothermal data compilation effort for the National Geothermal Data System project. The availability of such data allowed researchers to formulate hypotheses on the Blackfoot-Gem Valley volcanic field's geothermal potential that will be tested with the data acquired from the newly drilled wells. Data from the project are now available on the National Geothermal Data System website and will be available in expanded format during summer 2013 on the Idaho Geological Survey website. Read the full University of Idaho story: Idaho Geological Survey and U-Idaho Explore Geothermal Energy.

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EERE Funding Contributes to Latest Research on Geothermal Potential in Minnesota
March 29, 2012

The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) of the University of Minnesota Duluth released a report with an important discovery: Minnesota's subsurface holds a promising source of easily attainable heat—much more than scientists previously thought, and much shallower. NRRI's research project, in conjunction with the American Association of State Geologists, was funded in part by the Geothermal Technologies Office.

The results derived from the new data and methodology show that Minnesota's heat and electric power potential is three times greater than previous analyses have shown, up to 18,409 MW from 6,161 MW calculated by the MIT-DOE report of 2006, The Future of Geothermal Energy. NRRI researchers collected 57 new temperature measurements, analyzed them with thermal conductivity data from rock samples, and removed external climate signals that altered previous heat flow maps.

Moreover, this significant heat source is also located, on average, seven kilometers shallower than previous reports have shown. And while some areas of Minnesota are hotter than others, certain counties have the heat potential for Enhanced Geothermal Systems, a unique type of geothermal engineering designed for reservoirs lacking permeability and/or water but requiring hotter temperatures. Such locations in Minnesota can be found at just over seven kilometers depth, three kilometers shallower than previous measurements indicated—an exciting discovery that will dramatically reduce high upfront drilling costs. With three times more confirmed heat resources and a state mandate to switch 25 percent of its electricity generation to renewable fuels by 2025, geothermal energy may play a large role in Minnesota's future energy portfolio.

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New Mexico

Through Contributions to the National Geothermal Data System, State Geologists Facilitate Renewable Energy Development in New Mexico
May 2, 2012

The U.S. Department of Energy has invested in a project that could significantly expand geothermal development in New Mexico. As part of the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS)—an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) initiative coming online this year that will synthesize nationwide resource data from state and federal agencies, national labs, and universities—the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) project brings new data to the table and characterizes geothermal potential that has not been comprehensively assessed since the late 1970s. Leveraging additional recovery act funding for geothermal resource assessment, NMT used the data to complete four hydrothermal models that will help locate and assess new and often hidden geothermal prospects in New Mexico.

"The data help us assess areas favorable for potential geothermal exploration," says Shari Kelly, NMT Principal Investigator.

Geophysicists at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, a part of the NMT, are collecting three types of data to better understand and assess the geothermal potential in that state. First, temperature-depth data are collected in areas where the geothermal potential is high but data are scarce. To determine the behavior of underground water-rock interactions and hydrogeologic pathways of subsurface flow, scientists also measure strontium, sulfur, and carbon isotopes in sample geothermal springs and well waters—key parameters in defining the boundaries of hydrogeologic models. Finally, to determine age, longevity, and resource potential of hydrothermal systems in the Rio Grande rift of New Mexico, Argonne is used to date minerals such as cryptomelane, jarosite, and adularia.

NMT Professor of Hydrology Mark Person led a DOE-funded research demonstration based on the new data. He and five graduate students constructed a geochemical geothermometer for New Mexico by collecting geochemical data from hot springs and groundwater wells. According to Person, the new data generated by the NGDS enabled him and his students to map key geothermal features and identify geothermal prospects across the state. Their research, in turn, will improve the potential for geothermal development.

The Energy Department's NGDS project brings physical scientists together with relevant material data to build a network of accessible information. Correlating vital geoscience information such as heat flow from hot springs and geothermal wells, distance to calderas, faults, and the age of young volcanos is key to discovering new geothermal resources. As additional research comes online, R&D costs and investment risks will continue to diminish, making the cost of geothermal energy a more realistic contender for the national energy portfolio.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invested in both the National Geothermal Resource Assessment and Classification—a U.S. Geological Survey initiative—and a comprehensive and current geothermal assessment for the State of New Mexico. Combined, these resources pinpoint geothermal reservoirs and cutting-edge technologies that optimize the potential for geothermal development in New Mexico while reducing the risks.

Find additional information on NMT geothermal data collection and analysis efforts at U.S. Geoscience Information Network or New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

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Interactive Map Shows Oregon's Geothermal Resources
February 13, 2013

With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Oregon now has a great tool for identifying the hot geothermal energy potential miles below the earth's surface. An interactive geothermal map of Oregon posted by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries compiles public records of statewide data in one neat, easy-to-use format. Oregon is the first state to tap into the National Geothermal Data System for its map. Read the full story.

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Utah Offers Hope for More Potential Nationwide
September 24, 2012

The solution to America's energy needs might come from a new type of geothermal energy reservoir identified in sedimentary basins of Utah and Nevada. This summer, geoscientists from the Utah Geological Survey (UGS), in cooperation with the US Geological Survey (USGS), drilled seven geothermal gradient holes in Utah's Black Rock Desert basin to test a new concept of high-temperature geothermal resources in sedimentary basins. A drill hole near Pavant Butte in the north part of the basin yielded exceptionally high temperatures of 200°C at a depth of just 3 km. Based on drilling results, researchers conservatively estimate a basin-wide power density easily comparable to the energy output at The Geysers field in California, the U.S.'s most productive geothermal system. High temperatures encountered during oil exploration in the central Black Rock Desert basin motivated the UGS team to test whether deep sedimentary basins floored by older crystalline rock were capable of high heat flow. Drilling was funded by the Energy Department as part of the NGDS project, managed by the Arizona Geological Survey. Dr. Rick Allis, Director of the Utah Geological Survey and lead scientist on the sedimentary basin geothermal research, said that existing heat flow maps don't identify the geothermal energy potential in the area. There may be basins across the country that have similar unrecognized geothermal energy potential.

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National Geothermal Data System Project Protects Vermont Data from Tropical Storm Irene
August 28, 2011

For a comprehensive submittal of Vermont archived geologic information to the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) using funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy's Geothermal Technologies Office under an award to the Association of American State Geologists managed by the Arizona Geological Survey, the Vermont Geological Survey (VGS) scanned:

  1. our entire library which included published, draft and open file maps, bound books, field trip guidebooks, volumes with multiple articles, State Geologist Reports and publications of the Vermont Geological Survey, journal articles and
  2. our basement files which included mineral resource documents and maps (i.e. Brandon lignite, mineral springs, peat, phosphate etc), town and county reports (random documents pertaining to specific town issues), and sand and gravel reports.

All the above materials were out of the office at the scanning contractor when the VGS office was inundated by Tropical Storm Irene. The basement was completely flooded and the bookcases previously containing the archives were substantially affected by flood waters. As a result of this happy circumstance, the digitization and OCR project is complete and the data are available in computer formats with the paper versions returned and on library shelves. A substantial delivery has since been made to the NGDS to meet the goals of the DOE supported effort.

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Content Last Updated: 02/22/2013