A 3D-3C Reflection Seismic Survey and Data Integration to Identify the Seismic Response of Fractures and Permeable Zones Over a Known Geothermal Resource at Soda Lake, Churchill Co., NV Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title A 3D-3C Reflection Seismic Survey and Data Integration to Identify the Seismic Response of Fractures and Permeable Zones Over a Known Geothermal Resource at Soda Lake, Churchill Co., NV
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description The Soda Lake geothermal field is an ideal setting to test the applicability of the 3D-3C reflection seismic method because: it is a producing field with a great deal of geologic and drilling data already available; it is in an alluvial valley where the subsurface structures that carry the geothermal fluids have no surface manifestations; and, there are downhole geophysical logs of fractures and permeable zones that can be used to ground-truth the new data.

If the 3D-3C method is successful it will bring a powerful tool into use in the industry to select targets with the permeability, heat, and fluid needed to exploit geothermal resources.

State Nevada
Objectives Apply three-dimensional/three-component (3D-3C) reflection seismic technology to define transmissive geothermal structures at the Soda Lake Geothermal area, Churchill County, NV.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Magma Energy
Legal Name of Awardee Magma Energy (U.S.) Corp.
Awardee Website http://www.magmaenergycorp.com/s/Home.asp
Partner 1 University of Nevada
Partner 2 Dawson Geophysical

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $5,000,000.00
Awardee Cost Share $9,571,873.00
Total Project Cost $14,571,873.00

Principal Investigator(s) Francis C. Monastero, Magma Energy Corp
Other Principal Investigators John Louie, University of Nevada and Lisa Shevenell, University of Nevada
Targets / Milestones The basics of this technology were developed by the oil and gas industry to discern petrologic characteristics of hydrocarbon reservoirs, but the techniques have never been applied to definition and characterization of permeable zones associated with geothermal resources. There is a substantial amount of existing geophysical and wellbore data for the area, and these data will be complemented with modern, state-of-the-art reflection seismic data. Three-component geophones will record full-fold compressional p-wave, converted-wave, and shear-wave data over the 2.5 square miles of proven geothermal resource.

The proposed 3D seismic survey involves the generation of ground vibration by "vibroseis" equipment along source points and the recording of reflected sound waves and patterns arising from the different underground geologic strata along receiver lines. The proposed source points are arranged into source lines that run northeast to southwest and are oriented perpendicular to the receiver lines, which run northwest to southeast within the boundary of the project area. The data will be processed first in a conventional way to identify anomalous zones, to which specialized attribute processing will be applied. The results of the processing will be made accessible in a GIS format to facilitate visualization of interrelationships among the data and to build conceptual geologic and/or geothermal reservoir models and define drilling targets.

Location of Project Soda Lake, NV
39.5253°, -118.8767°
About the Area Churchill County, NV

Impacts If successful, this would mark a major advance in our ability to image potentially productive fluid pathways in fracture-dominated systems.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs