Macro and microscale structural geology: applications to geothermal energy

Thursday, January 20 at 11:00AM (MDT): Dr. David McNamara


Many conventional and enhanced, geothermal reservoirs are hosted in rocks with low intrinsic permeability. As such, successful development of these resources relies on understanding the role fractures and faults, play in reservoir fluid flow. There are two research aspects crucial to developing our understanding of structural permeability in geothermal resources: 1) characterising the geomechanics of a geothermal reservoir, and 2) how permeability is influenced by the formation of minerals in fluid-flowing fractures. There are many techniques for investigating these research fields but they require modification in both underpinning science and method for use in geothermal settings, and often novel, innovative, scientific approaches are required. This talk will highlight how the application of technology developed for oil and gas has helped understand geothermal systems, and how the use of scanning electron microscopy is revealing new information about geothermal mineralisation. Advances in the application of structural geology at multiple scales in the geothermal sector are proving useful for improving geological and operational aspect of this energy industry. As geothermal continues to grow as an international industry, and given its importance as part of the solution to decarbonising our society, it is vital we continue to transition skillsets and methodologies to this sector, improve the accessibility and inclusivity of this industry and research sector, as well as innovate and develop geoscience specifically for geothermal advancement.

2022 – Dr. David McNamara