Salton Sea Geothermal Area

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Salton Sea Geothermal Area

Area Overview

Geothermal Area Profile

Location: California

Exploration Region: Gulf of California Rift Zone

GEA Development Phase: Operational"Operational" is not in the list of possible values (Phase I - Resource Procurement and Identification, Phase II - Resource Exploration and Confirmation, Phase III - Permitting and Initial Development, Phase IV - Resource Production and Power Plant Construction) for this property.

Coordinates: 33.2°, -115.6°

Resource Estimate

Mean Reservoir Temp: 302°C575.15 K
575.6 °F
1,035.27 °R

Estimated Reservoir Volume: 107.16 km³107,160,000,000 m³
25.709 mi³
3,784,319,685,822.36 ft³
140,159,988,332.04 yd³
107,159,999,999,999.984 L

Mean Capacity: 437 MW437,000 kW
437,000,000 W
437,000,000,000 mW
0.437 GW
4.37e-4 TW

USGS Mean Reservoir Temp: 310°C583.15 K
590 °F
1,049.67 °R

USGS Estimated Reservoir Volume: 128 km³ [4]

USGS Mean Capacity: 2210 MW [4]

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History and Infrastructure

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Regulatory and Environmental Issues

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Exploration History

First Discovery Well

Completion Date:

Well Name:



Initial Flow Rate:
  • "d" is not declared as a valid unit of measurement for this property.
  • The given value was not understood.

Flow Test Comment:

Initial Temperature:

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Well Field Description

Well Field Information

Development Area:

Number of Production Wells:

Number of Injection Wells:

Number of Replacement Wells:

Average Temperature of Geofluid: 300°C573.15 K
572 °F
1,031.67 °R

Sanyal Classification (Wellhead): High Temperature

Reservoir Temp (Geothermometry):

Reservoir Temp (Measured):

Sanyal Classification (Reservoir):

Depth to Top of Reservoir: 1000m1 km
0.621 mi
3,280.84 ft
1,093.61 yd

Depth to Bottom of Reservoir: 2500m2.5 km
1.553 mi
8,202.1 ft
2,734.025 yd

Average Depth to Reservoir: 1750m1.75 km
1.087 mi
5,741.47 ft
1,913.818 yd

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Geology of the Area

Geologic Setting

Tectonic Setting: Rift Zone

Controlling Structure: Pull-Apart in Strike-Slip Fault Zone [10]

Topographic Features:

Brophy Model: Type D: Sedimentary-hosted, Volcanic-related Resource

Moeck-Beardsmore Play Type: CV-2a: Plutonic - Recent or Active Volcanism, CV-2b: Plutonic - Inactive Volcanism, CV-3: Extensional Domain"CV-2a: Plutonic - Recent or Active Volcanism, CV-2b: Plutonic - Inactive Volcanism, CV-3: Extensional Domain" is not in the list of possible values (CV-1a: Magmatic - Extrusive, CV-1b: Magmatic - Intrusive, CV-2a: Plutonic - Recent or Active Volcanism, CV-2b: Plutonic - Inactive Volcanism, CV-3: Extensional Domain, CD-1: Intracratonic Basin, CD-2: Orogenic Belt, CD-3: Crystalline Rock - Basement) for this property.

Geologic Features

Modern Geothermal Features: Hot Springs, Mudpots, Mud Pools, or Mud Volcanoes [12]

Relict Geothermal Features:

Volcanic Age: Quaternary [14]

Host Rock Age: Pleistocene [15]

Host Rock Lithology: sandstone [16]

Cap Rock Age: Holocene [17]

Cap Rock Lithology: shale [18]

Salton Sea geothermal area is located in the Salton Trough, an area of active spreading and attendant, plate-juncture plutonism. The Trough is a major transtensional rift—between the Pacific plate, on the west, and the North American plate, on the east—that merges southward through Mexico into the long, narrow Gulf of California. A chain of transform-segmented, oceanic spreading centers along the axis of the Gulf extends into southern California and the deeply-sedimented Trough as a succession of plate-bounding, right-stepping, right-lateral strike-slip faults connected by magmatically-active dilational jogs. The Salton Sea Geothermal Field is situated in the northernmost of these jogs, the northeastern boundary of which is the southeastern terminus of the San Andreas transform.

The Salton Sea geothermal system is unusually hot (up to at least 390°C at 2 km depth), hypersaline (up to 26 wt.%), and metalliferous (Fe, Zn, Pb, Cu). The system circulates in a permeable network of faults, stockwork fractures, breccias (hydrothermal and tectonic), and porous sandstones in the thick (~6 km) alluvial and lacustrine Salton Trough sedimentary sequence. The sequence comprises mostly sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone in various proportions, and is locally intruded by Pleistocene to Holocene gabbroic, granitic, and rhyolitic (but not compositionally intervening) plutons; and is interrupted at depth (about 1.6 km) by a buried rhyolite flow-dome-intrusive complex emplaced about 400,000 years ago. Similar but smaller Holocene rhyolitic volcanic centers are exposed in a northeast-oriented, crescent-shaped, concave-northwest array at the northwestern margin of the developed Salton Sea geothermal field.[11]

Heat Source

known or inferred magmatic system

Geofluid Geochemistry


Salinity (low): 200000 [19]

Salinity (high): 250000 [20]

Salinity (average): 225000

Brine Constituents:

Water Resistivity:

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NEPA-Related Analyses (0)

Below is a list of NEPA-related analyses that have been conducted in the area - and logged on OpenEI. To add an additional NEPA-related analysis, see the NEPA Database.

CSV No NEPA-related documents listed.

Exploration Activities (3)

Below is a list of Exploration that have been conducted in the area - and cataloged on OpenEI. Add.png Add a new Exploration Activity

Page Technique Activity Start Date Activity End Date Reference Material
Conceptual Model At Salton Sea Geothermal Area (1977) Conceptual Model 1977 1977

Earth Tidal Analysis At Salton Sea Geothermal Area (1980) Earth Tidal Analysis 1980 1980

Fluid Inclusion Analysis At Salton Sea Geothermal Area (1990) Fluid Inclusion Analysis 1990 1990


  1. Jeffrey W. Adams. 10/2011. The Geysers and Salton Sea Geothermal Fields. Mineral Resources Management Division. California State Lands Commission. 1-3p.
  2. Geothermex Inc.. 2004. New Geothermal Site Identification and Qualification. Richmond, CA: California Energy Commission. Report No.: P500-04-051. Contract No.: 500-04-051.
  3. Karl Gawell. 04/03/2014. Statement of Karl Gawell, Executive Director, Geothermal Energy Association Before the Senate Select Committee on California’s Energy Independence & Assembly Select Committee on Renewable Energy Economy in Rural California. Personal Communication sent to Senate Select Committee on California’s Energy Independence & Assembly Select Committee on Renewable Energy Economy in Rural California.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 U.S. Geological Survey. 2008. Assessment of Moderate- and High-Temperature Geothermal Resources of the United States. USA: U.S. Geological Survey. Report No.: Fact Sheet 2008-3082.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2  "World geothermal power generation in the period 2001–2005"
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  9.  "Assessment of Favorable Structural Settings of Geothermal Systems in the Great Basin, Western USA"
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  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3  "Magma-Hydrothermal Activity in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, Imperial County, California"
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  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4  "Geology and a Working Conceptual Model of the Obsidian Butte (Unit 6) Sector of the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, California"
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List of existing Geothermal Resource Areas.

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