Posted by: drgeophysics | June 25, 2009

Hydrothermal energy and earthquake hazards

<> Hydrothermal Northern California has been significantly delayed.

The scientists who told of delays in the project spoke only on the condition that they not be identified, in order to preserve their access to company progress reports. The scientists said that after nearly two months of the highly expensive drilling, the rig had reached depths of less than 4,000 feet. The original schedule called for it to reach a final depth of 12,000 feet, or 2.3 miles, after no more than 50 days of drilling, according to company officials.

Here is the New York Times article.

The almost complete lack of geothermal power in the United States was a major disappointment of the energy demonstration projects of the Carter Administration. Several of these projects were very successful, specifically those related to wind, solar and clear coal resulted in very large increases in (cleaner) electrical power. I was concerned by this report.

This article from the New York Times highlights an interesting connection between deep drilling and initiation of earthquake activity.

All seemed to be going well — until Dec. 8, 2006, when the project set off an earthquake, shaking and damaging buildings and terrifying many in a city that, as every schoolchild here learns, had been devastated exactly 650 years before by a quake that sent two steeples of the Münster Cathedral tumbling into the Rhine.

It will be interesting to follow this in Northern California. It surprises me that the Swiss project was simply abandoned. I wonder what the losses to the company were.

Here is the article.

Wiki page about enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

Here is the 10 page detailed proposal, including regional earthquake maps, stress, and cross sections. It looks interesting.

Earthquakes in the Basel region result in criminal probe (!).

Geothermal project shakes Basel again, from Swissinfo.ch.

Delays continue for the California project as described in this New York Times article.

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