Alum Innovative Exploration Project Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Alum Innovative Exploration Project
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description Phase 1 exploration will consist of two parts: 1) surface and near surface investigations and 2) subsurface geophysical surveys and modeling. The first part of Phase 1 includes: a hyperspectral imaging survey (to map thermal anomalies and geothermal indicator minerals), shallow (6 ft) temperature probe measurements, and drilling of temperature gradient wells to depths of 1000 feet. In the second part of Phase 1, 2D & 3D geophysical modeling and inversion of gravity, magnetic, and magnetotelluric datasets will be used to image the subsurface. This effort will result in the creation of a 3D model composed of structural, geological, and resistivity components. The 3D model will then be combined with the temperature and seismic data to create an integrated model that will be used to prioritize drill target locations. Four geothermal wells will be drilled and geologically characterized in Phase 2. The project will use a coiled-tube rig to test this drilling technology at a geothermal field for the first time. Two slimwells and two production wells will be drilled with core collected and characterized in the target sections of each well. In Phase 3, extended flow tests will be conducted on the producible wells to confirm the geothermal resource followed by an overall assessment of the productivity of the Alum geothermal area. Finally, Phase 3 will evaluate the relative contribution of each exploration technique in reducing risk during the early stages of the geothermal project.
State Nevada
Objectives -Reduce the high level of risk during the early stages of geothermal project development by conducting a multi-faceted and innovative exploration and drilling program at Alum

-Determine the combination of techniques that are most useful and cost-effective in identifying the geothermal resource through a detailed, post-project evaluation of the exploration and drilling program

The scope of this three phase project includes tasks to validate a variety of innovative exploration and drilling technologies which aim to accurately characterize the geothermal site and thereby reduce project risk.

Awardees (Company / Institution) Sierra Geothermal Power, Inc.
Awardee Website
Partner 1 Conrad Wright, SpecTIR, LLC
Partner 2 Chris Kratt, Desert Research Institute
Partner 3 William Cumming, Cumming Geoscience
Partner 4 Jerry Hamblin, Subsurface Excellence
Partner 5 Stephen Hallinan, Western Geco
Partner 6 John Deymonaz
Partner 7 GeothermEx, Inc.

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $5,000,000.00
Awardee Cost Share $7,356,546.00
Total Project Cost $12,356,546.00

Principal Investigator(s) Joel Ronne, Sierra Geothermal Power, Inc.
Other Principal Investigators Jeff Witter, Sierra Geothermal Power, Inc.
Targets / Milestones The expected outcome of this project is an exploration and drilling case-study of the Alum geothermal resource which can be used to help find and develop geothermal resources in analogous geologic environments.

Location of Project Alum, NV
About the Area Alum geothermal project is located in Nevada ~150 miles SE of Reno. It consists of federal geothermal leases that are 100% owned by SGP.

Impacts Validation of utilizing thermal infrared images from both day and night to do mineral and thermal mapping in combination with other surveys for successful well siting. The relative contribution of each technology will be assessed and reported.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs