Low-Temperature Geothermal Resources in Nevada

Summer 1993

The U.S. Department of Energy began a new geothermal energy program in Fiscal Year 1991. The objective of the program is to promote accelerated development of low- and moderate-temperature geothermal resources, and thus to offset fossil fuel use and improve the environment. The program has several components: collection of geothermal resource data, development of exploration techniques, technical assistance to potential geothermal developers, and evaluation of geothermal heat pump applications and use. An important aspect of several of the components is the evaluation of low- and moderate- temperature geothermal resources, especially in the western United States. Participants in the program include the Geo-Heat Center at the Oregon Institute of Technology (Klamath Falls), the University of Utah Research Institute, the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute (University of Idaho, Moscow), and agencies of state governments in most of the western states.

The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG) has been selected as the agency in Nevada to participate in this geothermal program . NBMG will prepare an up-to-date inventory of the state's low- and moderate-temperature geothermal resources (from 10C above mean annual temperature to 150C), and, in cooperation with the Geo-Heat Center, analyze which of these resources are near population centers and thus more likely for development. This inventory will make use of the considerable geothermal resource data collected at NBMG in the late 1970s and of new data from published and unpublished sources. Water chemistry data are available for many thermal springs and wells, and will be made a part of the database for the project. A few new analyses of thermal waters are planned as well. The project will utilize the extensive GIS (Geographic Information Systems) capabilities available at NBMG to tabulate exact locations (map coordinates -- for example, longitude and latitude) of all known thermal springs and wells.

A very important part of the data collection process is the identification of geothermal areas or sites which are relatively unknown or have not been previously described in published or otherwise readily available reports. Such sites would include warm or hot springs not shown on topographic maps or described in water resource reports, and areas of thermal groundwater encountered during drilling in areas not known to have geothermal resources. Additionally, NBMG needs more information on present uses of Nevada geothermal resources. Anyone who has information on new Nevada geothermal sites or uses should contact me at NBMG (702-784-6691).

---Larry Garside, Research Geologist