Abstract: History of Exploitation at Salton Sea Geothermal Field, California
J. H. Howard, Donald Towse
Geologically and historically, the Salton Sea Geothermal field is among the most interesting in the world. Structure of the field reflects the interaction of the East Pacific Rise and the North American plate and includes a series of active northwest-trending strike-slip faults. The stratigraphic section includes a series of lacustrine and braided-stream deposits of the ancestral Colorado River. The reservoir is liquid dominated. Temperatures as high as 630°F (332°C) have been reported. Porosities are as much as 30% at shallow depths but decrease rapidly with increasing depth and temperature. Fractures are an important factor in flow. Permeabilities lie in the range of a few hundred millidarcys. Estimates of the electric-energy potential range from 80 to 800 meg watt-centuries.
Attempts at energy recovery began in 1927; in addition, considerable effort has been devoted to minerals recovery. Carbon dioxide for refrigeration was taken from the field from 1932 to 1954. During the early 1960s, a serious but unsuccessful effort was made to recover other minerals, including potassium chloride.
Attempts to exploit the energy from this resource continue today. ERDA, San Diego Gas and Electric Co., and Imperial Magma Co. are evaluating a flashed-stream-binary-exchange power-production system. In addition, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory under contract to ERDA is evaluating still other innovative energy-recovery schemes, including the "total flow" system, which holds promise of greater efficiency of energy production. Interest in minerals recovery continues, but no major effort has been fielded in recent years.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90968©1977 AAPG-SEPM Annual Convention and Exhibition, Washington, DC