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Geothermal Energy Research in West Virginia

Renewable Energy for the Mountain State

FUN FACTS: Hot Spring? Warm Spring? Thermal Spring?
According to the American Geosciences Institute's Glossary of Geology:
Heat is generated within the Earth. Generally, the deeper the hotter, with the core of the Earth being as hot as the sun's surface (U.S. Energy Information Administration, Geothermal Explained). This heat makes its way close to the Earth's surface in some places, as with the thermal springs in Appalachia, the Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park, the spreading center at Iceland, and many other examples. Harnessing this heat and using it to warm us and generate electricity is a hot topic (pun intended) of research in the United States, as discussed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on its Geothermal Basics web page. The Department of Energy is specifically looking at Enhanced Geothermal Systems and Hydrothermal Resources, as well as Low-Temperature and Coproduced Resources.
WV geothermal map Temperatures in the Eastern U.S. at 9.5 km depth
(Blackwell et al., 2011)

Geothermal Energy in West Virginia

Researchers at Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Laboratory received a grant from Google.org to update their Geothermal Map of North America. Their results for West Virginia show the Mountain State is a relative hot spot in the Eastern U.S. and has subsurface temperatures high enough for geothermal energy generation on a commercial scale. The findings are detailed in the report: Blackwell, David, Richards, Maria, Frone, Zachary, Batir, Joe, Ruzo, Andrés, Dingwall, Ryan, and Williams, Mitchell, 2011, Temperature-At-Depth Maps for the Conterminous U.S. and Geothermal Resource Estimates: USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Geothermal Technologies Office, Geothermal Resources Council 2011 Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, (United States), 24-27 Oct 2011, GRC Transactions, Vol 35,pp. 1545-1550, URL: http://pubs.geothermal-library.org/lib/grc/1029452.pdf
The City of Morgantown is located near this West Virginia geothermal hot spot (Blackwell et al., 2011), and WVGES is part of a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored project assessing the possibility of replacing an existing fossil-fuel-fired power plant with geothermal energy for the West Virginia University campus. At the surface, the Silurian Tuscarora Sandstone forms some of West Virginia's most impressive peaks, including the iconic Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County, where the white, super-mature, quartz sandstone is thrust almost vertically. In the subsurface, formation water in the deeply buried Tuscarora is a potential geothermal reservoir. Working with DOE in coordination with the West Virginia University Energy Institute on the Feasibility of Deep Direct Use Geothermal on the West Virginia University Campus - Morgantown, WV project, WVGES helped investigate the geothermal potential of the Tuscarora Sandstone, located approximately 10,000 feet beneath Morgantown. As part of this assessment, WVGES geologists collected over 2,200 permeability and porosity measurements from Tuscarora cores stored in the WVGES core holdings. WVGES presented a scientific poster discussing these measurements and their results.
Map image
WVGES' interactive geothermal map shows bedrock geology, well locations used in the Southern Methodist University study, temperature, and other information. Our Geographic Information Systems REST Service includes all of the WVGES geothermal map web services associated with the interactive geothermal map.

Data and Maps

Please note: temperature varies with depth and many of these maps are for a specific depth.

Reference

Blackwell, David, Richards, Maria, Frone, Zachary, Batir, Joe, Ruzo, Andrés, Dingwall, Ryan, and Williams, Mitchell, 2011, Temperature-At-Depth Maps for the Conterminous U. S. and Geothermal Resource Estimates: USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Geothermal Technologies Office, Geothermal Resources Council 2011 Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, (United States), 24-27 Oct 2011, GRC Transactions, Vol 35,pp. 1545-1550, URL: http://pubs.geothermal-library.org/lib/grc/1029452.pdf
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Page last revised December 23, 2019.
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