Fracture Network and Fluid Flow Imaging for Enhanced Geothermal Systems: Applications from Multi-Dimensional Electrical Resistivity Structure Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Fracture Network and Fluid Flow Imaging for Enhanced Geothermal Systems: Applications from Multi-Dimensional Electrical Resistivity Structure
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Enhanced Geothermal Systems Component Research and Development/Analysis
Project Type / Topic 2 Geophysical Exploration Technologies
Project Description Practical 3-D subsurface imaging technology will be developed with model versatility, solution stability, computational accuracy, good speed, and hardware affordability. A two-pronged approach to this is proposed to help ensure success. First, an existing, long developed finite element formulation using a deformable grid and solving for magnetic potentials, proven to simulate high-contrast magnetic fields in the presence of topography, is in hand and will be pursued for electric field responses as needed in magnetotellurics (MT). Such a grid structure is superior to the stepped nature of traditional rectilinear finite difference model surfaces for accommodating topography, which can cause gross errors in subsurface models if ignored. Second, a staggered grid implementation will be generalized that has been worked on for some years to allow non-rectilinear finite difference cells. The team also will be taking the workstation parallelization capability to the next level by pursuing implementation on new-generation Intel multicore processors and substantially increased memory, but all still in a single-box platform.
State Utah
Objectives -Increase economically viable geothermal resources in the U.S.

-Reduce the levelized price of geothermally-derived electricity by advancing enhanced (engineered) geothermal systems (EGS)

Awardees (Company / Institution) University of Utah
Awardee Website
Partner 1 -

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000075
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $559,485.00
Awardee Cost Share $140,378.00
Total Project Cost $699,863.00

Principal Investigator(s) Philip E. Wannamaker, Energy & Geoscience Institute, University of Utah

Targets / Milestones The mentoring of new researchers as students or post-docs is a fundamental aspect of the proposal. New people are needed not only to gain familiarity with state of the art, but to be able to advance that state. we will have a Ph.D. student and a post-doc working on algorithm development and implementation. In addition to the above capability development as part of their research programs, two data sets will be analysed specifically to test topographic capability. This will comprise part of the thesis work of an additional Ph.D. student whose study at U Utah is funded independently.

Location of Project Salt Lake City, UT

Impacts If successful, provides a powerful tool for mapping subsurface fracture zones.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs