Geologic setting of the proposed Fallon FORGE Site, Nevada: Suitability for EGS research and development

GRC Transactions
By: , and 



The proposed Fallon FORGE site lies within and adjacent to the Naval Air Station Fallon (NASF) directly southeast of the town of Fallon, Nevada, within the large basin of the Carson Sink in west-central Nevada. The site is located on two parcels that include land owned by the NASF and leased and owned by Ormat Nevada, Inc. The Carson Sink in the vicinity of the Fallon site is covered by Quaternary deposits, including alluvial fan, eolian, and lacustrine sediments. Four wells penetrate the entire Neogene section and bottom in Mesozoic basement. Late Miocene to Quaternary basin-fill sediments are 0.5 to >1 km thick and overlie Oligocene-Miocene volcanic and lesser sedimentary rocks. The volcanic section is 0.5 to 1.0 km thick and dominated by Miocene mafic lavas. The Neogene section rests nonconformably on heterogeneous Mesozoic basement, which consists of Triassic-Jurassic metamorphic rocks intruded by Cretaceous granitic plutons. The structural framework is dominated by a gently west-tilted half graben cut by moderately to steeply dipping N- to NNEstriking normal faults that dip both east and west. Quaternary faults have not been observed within the proposed FORGE site.

Fallon was selected for a potential FORGE site due to its extensional tectonic setting, abundance of available data, existing infrastructure, and documented temperatures, permeability, and lithologic composition of potential reservoirs that fall within the ranges specified by DOE for FORGE. Since the early 1970s, more than 45 wells have been drilled for geothermal exploration within the area. Four exploration wells within the FORGE site are available for use in the project. Several additional wells are available for monitoring outside the central FORGE site within the NASF and Ormat lease area, including numerous temperature gradient holes. There is an existing, ten-station micro-seismic earthquake (MEQ) array that has been collecting data since 2001; the MEQ array can be expanded to encompass the entire Fallon project. The well data indicate that a sizeable area (~4.5 km2 ) has adequate temperatures in crystalline basement but lacks sufficient permeability within the proposed FORGE site. There are two possible, competent target formations in Mesozoic basement for stimulation in the FORGE project area: 1) Jurassic felsic metavolcanic rocks/and or metaquartzite; and 2) Cretaceous granitic intrusions. These units make up at least 3 km3 in the project area and have target temperatures of ~175-215o C. The abundant well data and detailed geophysical surveys (e.g., gravity, MT, and seismic reflection) provide significant subsurface control for the site and will permit development of a detailed 3D model. The documented temperatures, low permeability, and basement lithologies, as well as abundant available data facilitate development of a site dedicated to testing and improving new EGS technologies and techniques, thus making Fallon an ideal candidate for FORGE.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geologic setting of the proposed Fallon FORGE Site, Nevada: Suitability for EGS research and development
Series title GRC Transactions
Volume 39
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Geothermal Resources Council
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 293
Last page 302
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