UMass Sesquicentennial

Identifying and examining potential geothermal resources in non-traditional regions, examples from the northeastern U.S.

TitleIdentifying and examining potential geothermal resources in non-traditional regions, examples from the northeastern U.S.
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsKoteas, CG, Rhodes, JM, Mabee, SB, Goodhue, N, Adams, SA
Conference NameAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
Pagination40 - 40
Date Published2011/10/01/
PublisherGeological Society of America (GSA) : Boulder, CO, United States
Conference LocationUnited States
ISBN Number00167592
Keywords#StaffPubs, Andover Granite, Eastern U.S., Economic geology, geology of energy sources 29A, exploitation, exploration, Fall River Granite, field studies, geochemistry, geothermal energy, identification, mapping, massachusetts, models, Northeastern U.S., overburden, resources, sampling, southeastern Massachusetts, spectra, structural analysis, technology, temperature, United States, whole rock, X-ray fluorescence spectra

The search for geothermal resources is rapidly expanding into tectonic regions that have not been previously considered to be suitable for exploitation. Many of these regions, such as the northeastern U.S., have never been the site of extensive geophysical investigations and have few deep borehole temperature measurements. Nevertheless, large portions of the northeastern U.S. are underlain by granitic bedrock that may be a productive energy source by applying enhanced geothermal technologies. In the absence of traditional reconnaissance data, we utilize field studies and sampling together with geochemical analysis to develop models of geothermal resources that can be tested against data from deep boreholes. Heat production is calculated from the measured density of the samples, the concentrations of K, U, and Th from whole-rock geochemical analysis via X-ray fluorescence, and established radiogenic heat production values. Models for a particular area can then be generated by calculating depth-specific temperatures using heat production, measured thermal conductivity for each sample, and assumptions related to local stratigraphy and regional heat flow. Mapping and structural extrapolation are used to establish the subsurface characteristics at a study site and are combined with the thermal and chemical characteristics of contact rocks and overburden materials. Two examples of the application of this technique are the Fall River granite at the margin of the Narragansett Basin in southeastern Massachusetts and the Andover Granite in northeastern Massachusetts. Thermal models of the Fall River Pluton indicate average temperatures of 71 degrees C at depths of 4 km and 97 degrees C at 6 km. Average temperatures increase to 107 degrees C and 132 degrees C, respectively, when a 2 km thick sediment package is modeled overlying the granite. The Andover Granite, which is not associated with a sedimentary basin and is in a more structurally complex configuration, yields an average temperature of 74 degrees C at a depth of 4 km and 101 degrees C at 6 km. While this approach to modeling temperature-depth profiles requires some regional heat flow assumptions, the application of mapping and structural analysis with geochemistry and thermal conductivity studies can be an important reconnaissance tool for identifying non-traditional geothermal resources.

Short TitleAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
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