Merging High Resolution Geophysical and Geochemical Surveys to Reduce Exploration Risk at Glass Buttes, Oregon Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Merging High Resolution Geophysical and Geochemical Surveys to Reduce Exploration Risk at Glass Buttes, Oregon
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description This program will combine detailed gravity, high resolution aeromagnetic, and LIDAR data, all of which will be combined for structural modeling, with hyperspectral data, which will identify and map specific minerals and mineral assemblages that may point to upflow zones. The collection of these surveys and analyses of the merged data and model will be used to site deeper slim holes. Slim holes will be flow tested to determine whether or not Ormat can move forward with developing this resource. An innovative combination of geophysical and geochemical tools will significantly reduce risk in exploring this area, and the results will help to evaluate the value of these tools independently and in combination when exploring for blind resources where structure, permeability, and temperature are the most pressing questions. The slim holes will allow testing of models and validation of methods, and the surveys within the wellbores will be used to revise the models and site production wells if their drilling is warranted.

It is hoped that the culmination of this work will be a launching point for development of a new resource in central Oregon, the first utility-scale geothermal electricity production in the state. The project’s size has the potential to power a significant percentage of residential needs in central Oregon.

State Oregon
Objectives - Combine a suite of high resolution geophysical and geochemical techniques to reduce exploration risk by characterizing fault geometries and relationships at Glass Buttes, Oregon
Awardees (Company / Institution) Ormat Nevada, Inc.
Awardee Website

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $4,377,000.00
Awardee Cost Share $1,417,500.00
Total Project Cost $5,794,500.00

Principal Investigator(s) Patrick Walsh, Ormat Nevada, Inc.
Other Principal Investigators Dr. John Dilles, Oregon State University; Mr. Ian Madin, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries; Dr. Brigette Martini, Ormat Nevada, Inc.; Mr. Paul Spielman, Ormat Technologies, Inc.

Location of Project Glass Buttes, OR
About the Area Glass Buttes is one of the largest and most prospective projects in Ormat’s portfolio, with more than 60 km2 (23 mi2) of measured temperature gradients over 165° C/km (10° F/100ft). In the 1970s Phillips Petroleum shallow- and intermediate-depth drilling highlighted two large thermal anomalies that deserve renewed exploration.

Impacts Validation of a new combination of remote sensing tools to characterize fault geometries and relationships to reduce resource exploration risk for potential broad application.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs