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Geothermal potential maps by themselves cannot directly be used to estimate undiscovered resources. To address the undiscovered resource base in the Great Basin, a new and relatively quantitative methodology is presented. The methodology involves three steps, the first being the construction of a data-driven probabilistic model of the location of known geothermal systems using weights of evidence. The second step is the construction of a degree-of-exploration model. This degree-of-exploration model uses expert judgment in a fuzzy logic context to estimate how well each spot in the state has been explored, using as constraints digital maps of the depth to the water table, presence of the carbonate aquifer, and the location, depth, and type of drill-holes. Finally, the exploration model and the data-driven occurrence model are combined together quantitatively using area-weighted modifications to the weights-of-evidence equations. Using this methodology in the state of Nevada, the number of undiscovered geothermal systems with reservoir temperatures ???100??C is estimated at 157, which is 3.2 times greater than the 69 known systems. Currently, nine of the 69 known systems are producing electricity. If it is conservatively assumed that an additional nine for a total of 18 of the known systems will eventually produce electricity, then the model predicts 59 known and undiscovered geothermal systems are capable of producing electricity under current economic conditions in the state, a figure that is more than six times higher than the current number. Many additional geothermal systems could potentially become economic under improved economic conditions or with improved methods of reservoir stimulation (Enhanced Geothermal Systems).This large predicted geothermal resource base appears corroborated by recent grass-roots geothermal discoveries in the state of Nevada. At least two and possibly three newly recognized geothermal systems with estimated reservoir temperatures ???150??C have been identified on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation in west-central Nevada. Evidence of three blind geothermal systems has recently been uncovered near the borate-bearing playas at Rhodes, Teels, and Columbus Marshes in southwestern Nevada. Recent gold exploration drilling has resulted in at least four new geothermal discoveries, including the McGinness Hills geothermal system with an estimated reservoir temperature of roughly 200??C. All of this evidence suggests that the potential for expansion of geothermal power production in Nevada is significant.
Additional Publication Details
Prediction and discovery of new geothermal resources in the Great Basin: Multiple evidence of a large undiscovered resource base
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GRC 2006 Annual Meeting: Geothermal Resources-Securing Our Energy Future