A Method for Estimating Undiscovered Geothermal Resources in Nevada and the Great Basin

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Conference Paper: A Method for Estimating Undiscovered Geothermal Resources in Nevada and the Great Basin

Abstract
A preliminary estimate of undiscovered geothermal resources in Nevada is made to illustrate the feasibility of making such an estimate and present one method of doing so using digital information in a geothermal geographic information system (GIS). Although the results are preliminary, they suggest that the total geothermal resources in Nevada capable of generating electricity may be four to five times the known reserves. The method involves using geological, geophysical, and geochemical data to identify areas that are favorable and unfavorable for geothermal potential, and then assessing the degree of exploration in those areas based on the presence of drill-holes, wells, and depth to the water table. The “density of occurrence” (number of geothermal systems per km2) is calculated, taking into account the favorability of the terrain, the degree of exploration, and the ability of geothermal systems to remain concealed. Favorable and unfavorable geothermal terrains in Nevada were defined using a logistic regression statistical model and five separate layers of evidence; young volcanic rocks, earthquakes, GPS measurements of strain, northeast-trending young faults, and regional gravity anomalies. The degree of geothermal exploration was estimated using digital maps of geothermal wells, temperature gradient holes, oil wells, water wells, and depth to the water table. The resulting resource estimate does not include direct use of geothermal heat, nor does it consider potentially significant impacts from higher energy prices, technological improvements in plant design, successful development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), environmental issues, or the feasibility of locating these additional resources with known exploration technologies. This is only a preliminary estimate that illustrates a method; more formal estimates should be made that optimize the use of available digital information and incorporate advice from geothermal experts in the fields of economics, geology, and engineering.

Authors 
Mark F. Coolbaugh and Lisa A. Shevenell






Conference 
GRC Annual Meeting; Indian Wells, CA; 2004/08/29


Published 
Geothermal Resources Council, 2004





DOI 
Not Provided
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Online 
Internet link for A Method for Estimating Undiscovered Geothermal Resources in Nevada and the Great Basin

Citation

Mark F. Coolbaugh, Lisa A. Shevenell. 2004. A Method for Estimating Undiscovered Geothermal Resources in Nevada and the Great Basin. In: GRC Transactions. GRC Annual Meeting; 2004/08/29; Indian Wells, CA. Davis, CA: Geothermal Resources Council; p. 13-18