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Unconventional Geothermal Resource Estimates for the Continental United States

Williams, Mitchell *1; Richards, Maria 1; Blackwell, David D.1
(1) Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX.

The SMU Geothermal Laboratory recently completed a third generation of its geothermal resource assessment of the contiguous US. Through a grant from, the three year study improved upon the 2004 Geothermal Map of North America by nearly doubling the number of data points in the analysis, developing more detailed thermal conductivity models for temperature-at-depth and heat flow calculations, and adding of a significant number of equilibrium wells for calibrating bottom hole temperature (BHT) corrections. The study dramatically increases data density in the Eastern US as well as in sedimentary basins in the Western US, providing information on a sub-regional scale. These improvements increase both the aerial and vertical accuracy of temperature-at-depth calculations, which are the primary consideration for assessing Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and sedimentary basin geothermal potential. The resource assessment was prepared according to the June 2010 edition of the global protocol for estimating EGS potential. Sedimentary basins are of particular interest because of extensive oil and gas drilling. The new heat flow and temperature-at-depth maps highlight areas for further research related to EGS and low-temperature geothermal resources. Particularly the Raton Basin, the San Juan Basin, the Gulf Coast, and the Appalachian Basin of West Virginia are of interest because of their known high temperature at depths currently being drilled for oil and gas. Areas such as these provide the opportunity for vast expansion of the geothermal energy industry into all regions of the United States.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California