Geologic Setting of the Central Alaskan Hot Springs Belt: Implications for Geothermal Resource Capacity and Sustainable Energy Production

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Thesis: Geologic Setting of the Central Alaskan Hot Springs Belt: Implications for Geothermal Resource Capacity and Sustainable Energy Production

Abstract
The Central Alaskan Hot Springs Belt (CAHSB) is a vast stretch of low-temperaturehydrothermal systems that has the potential to be a geothermal energy resource forremote communities in Alaska. Little exploration has occurred in the CAHSB and theresource is poorly understood. A geothermal power plant was installed in 2006 at ChenaHot Springs (CHS), one of the 30-plus hot springs in the CAHSB. This, in addition to themultiple direct use projects at CHS, could serve as a model for geothermal developmentelsewhere in the CAHSB. This dissertation evaluates the geologic setting of the CAHSBand explores the implications for resource capacity and sustainable energy production.The local geology and geochemical characteristics of CHS are characterized, with a focuson identifying ultimate heat source responsible for the hot springs. A radiogenic heatsource model is proposed and tested for the entire CAHSB, wherein the anomalouslyradioactive plutons that are associated with nearly every hot spring are providing thesource of heat driving the geothermal activity. This model appears to be feasiblemechanism for the observed heat transfer. This implies that CAHSB 'reservoir' fluidsare probably low-temperature. It also suggests that individual hydrothermal systems aresmall-scale and localized features, unlike the types of hydrothermal systems that areconventionally exploited for energy (i.e., those that derive their heat from magmatic ordeep crustal sources, which have higher reservoir temperatures and larger spatial extent).In this context, the individual capacity of several CAHSB resources close to communitiesis assessed, and a preliminary evaluation of the sustainability of the power production scheme at CHS is given. As another approach to the question of sustainability, thisdissertation explores the ways in which external benefits of geothermal energy caninfluence the economics of a project. In sum, producing geothermal energy from CAHSBresources is somewhat risky at the present time, though it may be less risky thancontinued use of diesel fuel. The risks of geothermal development could be greatlyreduced by rapid and immediate exploration efforts to collect much-needed data aboutCAHSB geothermal resources.

Author 
Amanda M. Kolker





Organization 
University of Alaska Fairbanks



Published 
Publisher Not Provided, 2008





DOI 
Not Provided
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Online 
Internet link for Geologic Setting of the Central Alaskan Hot Springs Belt: Implications for Geothermal Resource Capacity and Sustainable Energy Production

Citation

[[Citation::Amanda M. Kolker. 2008. Geologic Setting of the Central Alaskan Hot Springs Belt: Implications for Geothermal Resource Capacity and Sustainable Energy Production [Thesis]. [ (!) ]: University of Alaska Fairbanks.]]


Related Geothermal Exploration Activities
Activities (12)


Areas (1)
  1. Chena Geothermal Area
Regions (0)