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Implications for non-traditional geothermal resources in southern New England; variability in heat potential based on thermal conductivity and geochemistry studies

TitleImplications for non-traditional geothermal resources in southern New England; variability in heat potential based on thermal conductivity and geochemistry studies
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKoteas, CG, Rhodes, JM, Mabee, SB, Ryan, A, Schmidt, J, League, C, Goodhue, N, Adams, SA, Gagnon, TK, Thomas, MA
Conference NameAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
Pagination76 - 77
Date Published2012/02/01/
PublisherGeological Society of America (GSA) : Boulder, CO, United States
Conference LocationUnited States
ISBN Number00167592
Keywords#StaffPubs, chemical composition, Connecticut, Economic geology, geology of energy sources 29A, energy sources, geothermal energy, geothermal exploration, granites, heat flow, igneous rocks, massachusetts, models, New England, plutonic rocks, thermal conductivity, United States

Estimating geothermal potential in southern New England in the absence of borehole heat flow data or geophysical studies has led to a focus on models based on thermal conductivity, geochemistry, and density-based heat production models. Preliminary estimates of geothermal potential generally match borehole-based heat flow data from similar tectonic environments. Nevertheless, microstructural and compositional heterogeneity with depth remain largely unconstrained. The extrapolation of regional structures based on detailed field mapping has helped to improve structural projections adjacent to major basins. However, an additional source of error in models of heat potential-with-depth are thermal conductivity estimates of igneous and meta-igneous rocks throughout Massachusetts (MA) and Connecticut (CT). Over three hundred granitoid localities in MA and CT have been analyzed to date. The southern New England region can be simplified into four major litho-tectonic zones: the Taconic-Berkshire Zone of western MA and northwestern CT, The Bronson Hill Zone associated with the CT River valley, the Nashoba Zone of central MA and eastern CT, and the Milford-Dedham Zone of eastern MA and eastern CT. Granitic rocks adjacent to the CT River valley and the Narragansett Basin vary considerably in thermal conductivity. Granites adjacent to the Narragansett Basin vary from 2.9 to 3.7 W/m * K. Average thermal conductivity values, combined with modeled heat production values, produce temperatures at 3 km depth along the Narragansett Basin that approach 85-115 degrees C. Values of meta-igneous rocks from the margin of the CT River valley in MA and CT vary more considerably in thermal conductivity, from 1.8 to 3.9W/m * K. Modeled heat potentials at 3 km depths along the eastern margin of the CT River valley vary between 74-122 degrees C and appear to be largely related to compositional variation. However, local rock composition is also related to metamorphic grade and fabric development, suggesting that both fabric and composition are first order controls on thermal conductivity. Modeling based on these data set to date suggests that combining thermal conductivity, whole rock geochemistry data, and density measurements can produce accurate reconnaissance estimates of geothermal potential in southern New England.

Short TitleAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
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