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Geological, Geophysical, And Thermal Characteristics Of The Salton Sea Geothermal Field, California

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Research and Development

  • Link:http://www.osti.gov/bridge/advancedsearch.jsp
  • Source:http://www.osti.gov/rdprojects
  • Resource Type:Journal Article
  • OSTI Identifier:882015
  • Published Date:2009-12-15
  • Subject:15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; CAP ROCK; CONVECTION; DEPOSITION; FRACTURES; GEOTHERMAL FIELDS; HEAT SOURCES; HOT WATER; HYDRAULIC FRACTURING; HYDROTHERMAL SYSTEMS; PERMEABILITY; POROSITY; RESERVOIR ROCK; SALTON SEA GEOTHERMAL FIELD; SANDSTONES; SEDIMENTS; SHALES; SILTSTONES; TEMPERATURE GRADIENTS
  • Description:The Salton Sea Geothermal Field is the largest water-dominated geothermal field in the Salton Trough in Southern California. Within the trough, local zones of extension among active right-stepping right-lateral strike-slip faults allow mantle-derived magmas to intrude the sedimentary sequence. The intrusions serves as heat sources to drive hydrothermal systems. We can characterize the field in detail because we have an extensive geological and geophysical data base. The sediments are relatively ...Show More
  • Description:The Salton Sea Geothermal Field is the largest water-dominated geothermal field in the Salton Trough in Southern California. Within the trough, local zones of extension among active right-stepping right-lateral strike-slip faults allow mantle-derived magmas to intrude the sedimentary sequence. The intrusions serves as heat sources to drive hydrothermal systems. We can characterize the field in detail because we have an extensive geological and geophysical data base. The sediments are relatively undeformed and can be divided into three categories as a function of depth: (1) low-permeability cap rock, (2) upper reservoir rocks consisting of sandstones, siltstones, and shales that were subject to minor alterations, and (3) lower reservoir rocks that were extensively altered. Because of the alteration, intergranular porosity and permeability are reduced with depth. permeability is enhanced by renewable fractures, i.e., fractures that can be reactivated by faulting or natural hydraulic fracturing subsequent to being sealed by mineral deposition. In the central portion of the field, temperature gradients are high near the surface and lower below 700 m. Surface gradients in this elliptically shaped region are fairly constant and define a thermal cap, which does not necessarily correspond to the lithologic cap. At the margin of the field, a narrow transition region, with a low near-surface gradient and an increasing gradient at greater depths, separates the high temperature resource from areas of normal regional gradient. Geophysical and geochemical evidence suggest that vertical convective motion in the reservoir beneath the thermal cap is confined to small units, and small-scale convection is superimposed on large-scale lateral flow of pore fluid. Interpretation of magnetic, resistivity, and gravity anomalies help to establish the relationship between the inferred heat source, the hydrothermal system, and the observed alteration patterns. A simple hydrothermal model is supported by interpreting the combined geological, geophysical, and thermal data. In the model, heat is transferred from an area of intrusion by lateral spreading of hot water in a reservoir beneath an impermeable cap rock. ...Show Less
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