Since I was little, I have always been curious as to how things have come to be in the natural landscape, particularly volcanoes. When I became involved in work with the geothermal industry, I gained access to the subsurface through the geothermal drilling. With this came the ability to investigate what has been going on in the past, and how it can give clues to what is happening at the surface now.
I love that I can work in my field of interest, while applying it to geothermal related issues, where the outcome can make a potential difference to how geothermal energy is utilised or explored for.
I love the giant jigsaw puzzle of putting research together. You start with an idea and hunt out the different parts of the puzzle, working towards filling in the whole picture. Often, the bit of puzzle doesn’t seem to obviously fit, and it is not until you chase down more that you realise how it all goes together. With the research I do, these puzzle pieces are bits of information you can get from the rocks deep under the land surface. Things like, when volcanoes were erupting in the area, when there may have been earthquakes and fault movement, and when there may have been geothermal activity happening in the past. I also love that I get to work with great teams of researchers with areas of expertise different to mine, who’s different views on the jigsaw puzzle often help find out where the missing pieces are.
Milicich,S.D., Wilson, C.J.N., Bignall, G., Pezaro, B. and Bardsley, C., 2013.Reconstructing the geological and structural history of an active geothermal field: A case study from New Zealand. Journal of Volcanology and GeothermalResearch, 262: 7-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2013.06.004
What was the research finding?
That geothermal activity can repeatably manifest in the same geographic location over a long time when there is volcanic activity in that area, often at times when there is more movement on local faults. In this case at Kawerau, there is evidence of a geothermal system present at ~360 ka, which is different from the one currently active there now.
Why is it important?
It can help give an idea to how long geothermal resources may last, and how volcanic activity and fault movement can sustain fluid flow and heat in a geothermal system.
Where are you?
On the slopes of North Crater on Mount Tongariro.
What are you doing?
Going to check out the hydrothermal venting after the eruption of Te Maari crater in 2012.
Read more about Sarah's work experience here.