Spatial analysis with a GIS was used to evaluate geothermal systems in Nevada using digital maps of geology, heat flow, young faults, young volcanism, depth to groundwater, groundwater geochemistry, earthquakes, and gravity. High-temperature (>160??C) extensional geothermal systems are preferentially associated with northeast-striking late Pleistocene and younger faults, caused by crustal extension, which in most of Nevada is currently oriented northwesterly (as measured by GPS). The distribution of sparse young (<1.5Ma) basaltic vents also correlate with geothermal systems, possibly because the vents help identify which young structures penetrate deeply into the crust. As expected, elevated concentrations of boron and lithium in groundwater were found to be favorable indicators of geothermal activity. Known high-temperature (>160??C) geothermal systems in Nevada are more likely to occur in areas where the groundwater table is shallow (<30m). Undiscovered geothermal systems may occur where groundwater levels are deeper and hot springs do not issue at the surface. A logistic regression exploration model was developed for geothermal systems, using young faults, young volcanics, positive gravity anomalies, and earthquakes to predict areas where deeper groundwater tables are most likely to conceal geothermal systems.
Additional publication details
A Geothermal GIS for Nevada: Defining Regional Controls and Favorable Exploration Terrains for Extensional Geothermal Systems