February 22, 2021

Team Profile:
Fluids in Geothermal Systems

Isabelle Chambefort and Andri Stefánsson

photo credit:
Isabelle Chambefort

Isabelle Chambefort, Programme Leader for Geothermal: The Next Generation (GNG) and Andri Stefánsson, Professor at the University of Iceland and member of GNG’s International Advisory Group, co-authored a paper recently published in Elements, an International Magazine of Mineralogy, Geochemistry and Petrology.

Isabelle Chambefort & Andri Stefánsson (2020) Fluids in Geothermal Systems. Elements, 16(6): 407-411. Hydrothermal Fluids, edited by Matthew Steele-MacInnis and Craig E Manning. doi.org/10.2138/gselements.16.6.407

"Hot fluids are nearly ubiquitous in volcanic environments in the Earth’s crust. Magma at depth heats groundwater which then ascends towards the Earth’s surface through faults, fractures, and otherwise permeable rocks. Fluids in geothermal systems offer direct insight into the many complex chemical and physical processes that occur in these extreme environments. They are also analogues of many ore-forming systems. Scientists have advanced our understanding of fluids in geothermal systems by studying wells sunk ~2–3 km deep into many geothermal fields. Today, we are targeting deeper and hotter reservoirs, at or near the contact of magmatic bodies, which provide unique opportunities to study, and potentially utilize, supercritical fluid resources in the near future."

This peer-reviewed publication highlights the importance of understanding fluid chemistry in volcanic-hosted, high-temperature geothermal systems. We summarised the characteristics of high temperature geothermal systems and their fluids, their role as ore-forming systems, and presents our point of view on how and why supercritical fluids could be a way forward for future energy needs.

This article is designed for a broad scientific audience, and tries to challenge some of the conceptual views about high temperature geothermal systems. If you are not a member of the magazine (so cannot access the article) and would like more information, please contact Dr Chambefort.

The editors selected an image supplied by us for the cover of this issue! Front page cover: Silica sinter terrace, Waiotapu geothermal system, New Zealand. When the hot boiling water reaches the surface, it then cools and precipitates silica, forming large terraces. Photo courtesy of Isabelle Chambefort.

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