Pilgrim Hot Springs, Alaska Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Pilgrim Hot Springs, Alaska
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Geothermal Technologies Program
Project Type / Topic 2 Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
Project Description A combination of existing and innovative remote sensing and geophysical techniques will be used to site the two confirmation core holes. These include a suite of Landsat, Aster, and FLIR techniques using infrared radiation combined with a CSAMT/AMT resistivity survey, 4.5 m to 150 m temperature gradient holes, and 1980 convective heat loss calculations. These will be used in combination to determine the natural heat loss from the Pilgrim geothermal system and allow an order of magnitude estimate of the resource potential.

As part of this project the University of Alaska is proposing a new and innovative iterative method of digital processing of acquired thermal infrared data adapted from thermal data processing techniques successfully used to identify small and subtle coal mine fires and in volcanology research. This has been successfully attempted for a geothermal system with a discrete surface expression on one prior occasion by the project team. If this technique can be repeatedly shown to be effective at estimating the heat flow to the surface, it will provide a very low cost and fast method of measuring the natural heat loss for certain geothermal systems which can be used as an indication of its maximum possible electrical megawatt output potential.

State Alaska
Objectives Utilize remote sensing and ground based geophysical surveys to develop a preliminary conceptual model to site two NQ or HQ sized core holes.
Awardees (Company / Institution) University of Alaska
Legal Name of Awardee University of Alaska Fairbanks
Awardee Website http://www.alaska.edu/

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000109
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $4,616,879.00
Awardee Cost Share $1,538,960.00
Total Project Cost $6,155,839.00

Principal Investigator(s) Gwen Holdmann, University of Alaska
Other Principal Investigators Anupma Prakash, University of Alaska and Joanna Mongrain University of Alaska
Targets / Milestones - Drill holes into a zone of rising thermal water with temperatures between 100 oC and 150 oC that is recharging the shallow 90 o C thermal aquifer at Pilgrim Hot Springs.

- After these holes are completed, one or two interference tests will be performed to collect data for history matching calibrations for a numerical simulation of the Pilgrim geothermal resource.
- The conceptual model and numerical simulation will give predictions as to the potential size and megawatt output of the resource. Additionally, the two core holes are intended to discover the up flowing and hotter part of the Pilgrim geothermal resource and provide information on its location, chemistry, and temperature that is needed prior to any future development.
- Flow testing of individual wells and interference tests will provide information on the overall permeability and size of the resource through the numerical modeling process.

Location of Project Pilgrim Hot Springs, AK

Impacts Validation that the new application of iterative digital processing of infrared data can effectively be used in geothermal exploration with potential for broad application to areas where heat has been identified but productive well sites have not been found.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs