Conceptual Models of Geothermal Systems – Introduction

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Conference Paper: Conceptual Models of Geothermal Systems – Introduction


The key to the successful exploration, development (incl. drilling) and utilization of any type of geothermal system is a clear definition and understanding of the nature and characteristics of the system in question. This is best achieved through the development of a conceptual model of the system, which is a descriptive or qualitative model incorporating, and unifying, the essential physical features of the system. Conceptual models are mainly based on analysis of geological and geophysical information, temperature and pressure data, information on reservoir properties as well as information on the chemical content of reservoir fluids. Monitoring data reflecting reservoir changes during long-term exploitation, furthermore, aid in revising conceptual models once they become available. Conceptual models should explain the heat source for the reservoir in question and the location of recharge zones, the location of the main flow channels, the general flow patterns within the reservoir as well as reservoir temperature and pressure conditions. A comprehensive conceptual model should, furthermore, provide an estimate of the size of the reservoir involved. Cooperation of the different disciplines involved in geothermal research and development is of particular importance. Conceptual models are an important basis of field development plans, i.e. in selecting locations and targets of wells to be drilled and ultimately the foundation for all geothermal resource assessments, particularly volumetric assessments and geothermal reservoir modelling, used to assess the energy production capacity of a geothermal system. Initially a conceptual model depends mostly on surface exploration data, but once the first wells have been drilled into a system subsurface data come into play, increasing the knowledge on a geothermal system. Most important are feed-zone, temperature-logging and well-test data. Conceptual models should be revised, and improved, continuously throughout the exploration, development and utilization

history of a geothermal system, as more data and information become available.

Gudni Axelsson

United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme; Santa Tecla, El Salvador; 2013/02/24

United Nations University, 2013

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Internet link for Conceptual Models of Geothermal Systems – Introduction

Gudni Axelsson. 2013. Conceptual Models of Geothermal Systems – Introduction. In: Short Course V on Conceptual Modelling of Geothermal Systems. United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme; 2013/02/24; Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Reykjavik, Iceland: United Nations University; p. N/A