Effectiveness of shallow temperature surveys to target a geothermal reservoir at previously explored site at McGee Mountain, Nevada Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Effectiveness of shallow temperature surveys to target a geothermal reservoir at previously explored site at McGee Mountain, Nevada
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description This program includes two innovative technologies that can provide useful early stage exploration data that can dramatically lower initial exploration costs and risk by reducing later drilling costs. The first of these, the shallow 2 meter temperature survey, which GP has used to delineate thermal anomalies at many sites, has already identified a shallow steam-heated thermal anomaly at McGee Mountain. The second innovative technology, the truck mounted hydroprobe survey, can sample groundwater and measure temperatures quickly and cheaply at depths of up to 75m.

Shallow temperature surveys have the potential to revolutionize greenfield/grass roots geothermal exploration by targeting and delineating geothermal anomalies in a low-risk, cost-effective manner. Quantification of the results will help test the cost effectiveness of this approach in early stage geothermal exploration. The hydroprobe has the potential to cost-effectively sample groundwater and measure temperature profiles at up to 75m depths. McGee Mountain is an ideal location to test these innovative technologies because over $1m has been spent to date using conventional techniques, yielding encouraging results but no discovery. Thus direct comparisons of conventional versus innovative techniques can be made.

This program would quantify the relationship between the thermal anomaly as measured at/near the surface and the underlying geological and thermal conditions that caused it, and the effectiveness and limitations to these techniques will be assessed. The results will be passed on to the geothermal exploration community in order to facilitate grass roots exploration and the discovery of new economic geothermal systems.

State Nevada
Objectives Test the effectiveness of shallow temperature surveys to cost-effectively identify deep drill targets.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Geothermal Technical Partners, Inc

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $1,609,275.00
Awardee Cost Share $1,619,666.00
Total Project Cost $3,228,941.00

Principal Investigator(s) Richard Zehner

Targets / Milestones - Determine the relationship between the shallow thermal anomaly at McGee and the underlying geologic conditions that caused it.

- Perform a cost-benefit analysis to quantify savings that the shallow surveys provide in target identification as opposed to delineation using conventional exploration.
- Document advantages and limitations of these innovative technologies.
- Discover a new geothermal resource at McGee Mountain.

Portions of the Phase I work have already been completed, including the acquisition and synthesis of all available legacy exploration data at McGee Mountain into a Geographic Information System (GIS), and a shallow temperature survey of the project site. Additional proposed Phase I work would consist of a shallow (up to 75 m depth) hydroprobe sampling of geothermal fluids and temperature, a closely spaced gravity survey, and the drilling of 200m deep temperature gradient holes to target geothermal upflow zones. Phase I work will provide the necessary structural, thermal, and geochemical information necessary to direct deeper Phase II drilling. Phase II work includes the drilling of two resource confirmation holes (“slim holes”) designed to penetrate the productive zones identified by Phase I exploration. Phase III involves flow testing and logging of the slim holes, data compilation and analysis, report writing, and well site reclamation.

Location of Project McGee Mountain, NV

Impacts The geology of the McGee site is similar to that of many fault hosted systems in the Basin and Range and thus there is a potential for large impact on future exploration projects in the region due to the relatively low cost of thermal surveys.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs