I have been fascinated by geothermal systems since I heard a lecture by, later PhD supervisor, Terry Seward who introduced these to us. Later in my career, I became involved in the numerical modelling of how supercritical fluids flow in the earth's crust, and during a visit in Iceland built connections to the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, who were the first to intentionally drill into supercritical geothermal resources. Since then, we have had several research projects in the supercritical context, several of which were catalysed by the International Partnership for Geothermal Technology (IPGT). New Zealand is a partner in IPGT, and so I think becoming involved in GNG has almost been a prototypic demonstration of how such international partnership can bring leading experts together and result in synergistic collaboration.
I am a geologist by training and therefore like a lot how we can use our numerical models to test field-derived conceptual hypotheses about geothermal systems. And make predictions that in turn the people in the field can test.
Well, we were the first to simulate supercritical geothermal resources and what geologic factors control their occurrence: Scott S., Driesner T., and Weis P. (2015): Geologic controls on supercritical geothermal resources above magmatic intrusions. Nature Communications 6, 7837.
What was the research finding?
We could show that permeability of the subsurface and how it changes near magma bodies is a major control on the occurrence, size and possible economic value of supercritical resources. Perhaps even more importantly, the simulations seem to indicate that supercritical resources may be an integral part of many geothermal systems.
Why is it important?
The untapped supercritical resources have the potential of enlarging the resource at any given geothermal field and potentially delivering more power per well than conventional geothermal wells.
Where are you?
Krysuvik, SE Iceland
What are you doing?
Exploring geothermal surface features and learning how much more complicated these are in detail, compared to a numerical model J
Read more about Thomas's experience here.