Prospecting for a Blind Geothermal System Utilizing Geologic and Geophysical Data, Seven Troughs Range, Northwestern Nevada
AuthorForson, Corina K.
AdvisorFaulds, James E.
Geological Sciences and Engineering
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To aid in the discovery and evaluation of blind resources, it is important to utilize geologic, geophysical, and geochemical techniques to find the required elements (e.g., heat source, fluid to transport the heat, and permeability in a reservoir) for geothermal energy production. Based on a regional low resistivity anomaly discovered through a reconnaissance magnetotelluric (MT) survey, detailed geologic mapping, structural analysis, and a 2 m temperature survey were conducted to delineate the most likely areas for blind geothermal activity in the Seven Troughs Range, Nevada. The Seven Troughs Range resides in the northwestern Basin and Range province 190 km northeast of Reno and 50 km northwest of Lovelock in western Nevada. There is no known geothermal system in the area. Mesozoic metasedimentary strata and intrusions dominate the northern and southern parts of the range but are nonconformably overlain by a thick sequence (~ 1.5 km) of Oligocene to Miocene volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks and Quaternary sediments in the central part of the range. The southern part of the range consists of a basement horst block bounded by two major range-front faults, with Holocene fault scarps marking the more prominent fault on the east side of the range. In contrast, several gently to moderately west-tilted fault blocks, with good exposures of the Tertiary volcanic strata and bounded by a series of steeply east-dipping normal faults, characterize the central part of the range. Kinematic analysis of faults in the range and regional relations indicate a west-northwest-trending extension direction. Accordingly, slip and dilation tendency analyses suggest that north-northeast striking faults are the most favorably oriented for reactivation and fluid flow under the current stress field. Two areas in the Seven Troughs Range have a favorable structural setting for generating permeability and channeling geothermal fluids to the near surface: 1) A major right step in the range-front fault and concomitant fault intersection on the east side of the Seven Troughs Range. Slightly elevated 2 m temperatures (~15° C vs. background temperatures of 11-12 ° C) have been found in this vicinity. 2) A left step in the range-front fault and attendant fault termination on the west side of the range in the vicinity of Porter Spring. This area has the highest recorded 2 m temperatures (~19° C). Although the 2 m temperature survey does not reflect the presence of hot geothermal fluids near the surface at these locations, the 2D low resistivity MT anomaly and favorable structural settings warrant further analysis for blind geothermal systems in the area.