Geothermal GIS coverage of the Great Basin, USA: Defining regional controls and favorable exploration terrains

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A geographic information system (GIS) of geothermal resources, built last year for the state of Nevada, is being expanded to cover the Great Basin, USA. Data from that GIS is being made available to industry, other researchers, and the public via a web site at the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy, Reno, Nevada. That web site features a search engine, supports ArcExplorer?? for on-line map construction, and provides downloadable data layers in several formats. Though data collection continues, preliminary analysis has begun. Contour maps of geothermal temperatures, constructed using geothermometer temperatures calculated from a Great Basin geochemical database compiled by the Geo-Heat Center, reveal distinctive trends and patterns. As expected, magmatic-type and extensional-type geothermal systems have profoundly different associations, with magmatic-type systems following major tectonic boundaries, and extensional-type systems associating with regionally high heat flow, thin crust, active faulting, and high extensional strain rates. As described by earlier researchers, including Rowen and Wetlaufer (1981) and Koenig and McNitt (1983), high-temperature (> 100??C) geothermal systems appear to follow regional northeast trends, most conspicuously including the Humboldt structural zone in Nevada, the "Black Rock-Alvord Desert" trend in Oregon and Nevada, and the "Newcastle-Roosevelt" trend in Utah and Nevada. Weights-of-evidence analyses confirm a preference of high-temperature geothermal systems for young northeast-trending faults, but the distribution of geothermal systems correlates even better with high rates of crustal extension, as measured from global positioning system (GPS) stations in Nevada. A predictive map of geothermal potential based only on areas of high extensional strain rates and high heat flux does an excellent job of regionally predicting the location of most known geothermal systems in Nevada, and may prove useful in identifying blind systems.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Geothermal GIS coverage of the Great Basin, USA: Defining regional controls and favorable exploration terrains
Year Published:
Larger Work Title:
Transactions - Geothermal Resources Council
First page:
Last page:
Conference Title:
International Collaboration for Geothermal Energy in the Americas - Geothermal Resources Counsil: 2003 Annual Meeting
Conference Location:
Morelia, Michoacan
Conference Date:
12 October 2003 through 15 October 2003