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Hydrothermal Resources

Hydrothermal geothermal resources are so-called because they contain the necessary fluids to carry heat. A number of systems that contain the necessary fluids are listed below. The list is in the order of convection being the most important mechanism of total heat transfer (=convection + conduction). Conduction becomes a more important method of heat transfer when there is not as much permeability in the rock.1Ayling, B., 2020, Renewable energy underground – searching for hot water and hot rocks in the western USA, presentation University of Nevada, Reno, https://gbcge.org/seminars/discover_science/

  1. Volcanic and magmatic systems provide plenty of heat, fluid and transport pathways. These hydrothermal systems are our highest temperature associated geothermal resources. Most of the systems we use around the world for electricity generation access these types of geothermal systems.2Ayling, B., 2020, Renewable energy underground – searching for hot water and hot rocks in the western USA, presentation University of Nevada, Reno, https://gbcge.org/seminars/discover_science/ Examples of volcanic systems include hotspot volcanism in Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park and subduction related volcanism in the Cascade region of the Western United States. Examples of magmatic systems include California and in the eastern Great Basin in Utah.
  2. Non-volcanic systems are usually associated with deep circulation of groundwater and are considered hydrothermal. They are usually not quite as hot as the volcanic systems and there could be issues with permeability and pathways for fluids to move around. Examples are in the Great Basin region of Nevada, where resource temperatures range from 100-260° C.3Ayling, B., 2020, Renewable energy underground – searching for hot water and hot rocks in the western USA, presentation University of Nevada, Reno, https://gbcge.org/seminars/discover_science/
  3. Hot sedimentary aquifers. Examples are in Utah and Nevada.
  4. Geopressured (deep sedimentary basins) resources. Examples are in the Gulf Coast Region of Texas.