August 16, 2020

Team Profile:
High Temperature & Pressure Experimental Geochemistry Laboratory

Bruce Mountain

photo credit:
Bruce Mountain

The GNS Science Experimental Geochemistry Laboratory is the only one of its kind in the world. Specialist equipment includes four high temperature-pressure reactors, which can simulate high temperature and pressure conditions in the Earth’s crust.

High temperature – high pressure continuous flow reactor

The specialist equipment produces new knowledge on the chemical and physical reactions that occur in geothermal reservoirs. This information is used to:

  • simulate fluid flow through rocks at depth
  • model fluid-rock interaction - the interactions between geothermal fluids and surrounding host rocks
  • explore mineral solubility
  • understand the thermal stability of metal complexes and tracer compounds under geothermal conditions
  • develop new novel methods for simulating fluid-material interactions

The lab is dedicated to solving current and future problems encountered by the geothermal industry. Experimental studies of fluid-material interactions in geothermal reservoirs provide important data for energy companies, in New Zealand and internationally, to mitigate problems, enhance productivity and support resource sustainability.

The lab’s unique capability is also essential to support frontier geothermal research. The recent addition of an ultra-high temperature reactor to the lab has taken the maximum experimental temperature from 400°C to 700°C. This expands the research scope beyond conventional geothermal conditions (<350°C), to be able to simulate the supercritical geothermal conditions (>400°C) essential for achieving the research objectives of the Geothermal: The Next Generation (GNG) research programme.

The high temperature-pressure reactors can maintain supercritical conditions over periods of several weeks, offering the GNG programme a unique advantage in the investigation of the deep sources of geothermal systems and their connection with magmatic systems.

Geochemist Bruce Mountain and the new high temperature-pressure reactors.

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