GIS methodology for geothermal play fairway analysis: Example from the Snake River Plain volcanic province

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Play fairway analysis in geothermal exploration derives from a systematic methodology originally developed within the petroleum industry and is based on a geologic and hydrologic framework of identified geothermal systems. We are tailoring this methodology to study the geothermal resource potential of the Snake River Plain and surrounding region. This project has contributed to the success of this approach by cataloging the critical elements controlling exploitable hydrothermal systems, establishing risk matrices that evaluate these elements in terms of both probability of success and level of knowledge, and building automated tools to process results. ArcGIS was used to compile a range of different data types, which we refer to as ‘elements’ (e.g., faults, vents, heatflow…), with distinct characteristics and confidence values.

Raw data for each element were transformed into data layers with a common format. Because different data types have different uncertainties, each evidence layer had an accompanying confidence layer, which reflects spatial variations in these uncertainties. Risk maps represent the product of evidence and confidence layers, and are the basic building blocks used to construct Common Risk Segment (CRS) maps for heat, permeability, and seal. CRS maps quantify the variable risk associated with each of these critical components. In a final step, the three CRS maps were combined into a Composite Common Risk Segment (CCRS) map for analysis that reveals favorable areas for geothermal exploration.

Python scripts were developed to automate data processing and to enhance the flexibility of the data analysis. Python scripting provided the structure that makes a custom workflow possible. Nearly every tool available in the ArcGIS ArcToolbox can be executed using commands in the Python programming language. This enabled the construction of a group of tools that could automate most of the processing for the project. Currently, our tools are repeatable, scalable, modifiable, and transferrable, allowing us to automate the task of data analysis and the production of CRS and CCRS maps. Our ultimate goal is to produce a toolkit that can be imported into ArcGIS and applied to any geothermal play type, with fully tunable parameters that will allow for the production of multiple versions of the CRS and CCRS maps in order to better test for sensitivity and to validate results.

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Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title GIS methodology for geothermal play fairway analysis: Example from the Snake River Plain volcanic province
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Stanford University
Publisher location Stanford, CA
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings, 41st Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
Conference Title 41st Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
Conference Location Stanford, CA
Conference Date February 22-24, 2016
Country United States
State Idaho
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