Vapor-dominated geothermal systems such as Larderello, Italy, The Geysers, California, and Matsukawa, Japan yield dry or superheated steam when exploited. Models for these systems are examined along with production data and the thermodynamic properties of water, steam and rock. It is concluded that these systems initially consist of a water and steam filled reservoir, a water-saturated cap rock, and a water or brine-saturated deep reservoir below a water table. Most liquid water in all parts of the system is relatively immobilized in small pores and crevices; steam dominates the large fractures and voids of the reservoir and is the continuous, pressure-controlling phase. With production, the pressure is lowered and the liquid water boils, causing massive transfer of heat from the rock and its eventual drying. Passage of steam through already dried rock produces superheating. After an initial vaporization of liquid water in the reservoir, the decrease in pressure produces increased boiling below the deep water table. With heavy exploitation, boiling extends deeper into hotter rock and the temperature of the steam increases. This model explains most features of the published production behavior of these systems and can be used to guide exploitation policies. ?? 1973.
Additional publication details
Production of superheated steam from vapor-dominated geothermal reservoirs