General Information

Fall Semester 2010

Three credit hours. Class meets once a week, Wednesday 4-7pm, to accommodate off-campus attendees. Two hours lecture and 1 hr practical each week; one two-day field trip.

Course coordinators:
David Chapman
University of Utah; FASB 265 - (801)581-6820 -
Rick Allis
Utah Geological Survey - (801)537-3301 -

Course Description

Fundamentals of geothermal systems including occurrence, conductive and convective heat transfer, harnessing the heat, reservoir engineering, geology, geochemistry, exploration techniques, and geothermal field management. The focus is on case studies and practical application of theory. A two-day field trip to geothermal systems in Southern Utah is included.


  1. Crustal Geothermal Regime: thermal state of the upper crust, fundamental parameters and units for heat transfer, models of geothermal systems, convection vs. conduction, stored heat in crust, cooling plutons and cooling time scales, volcanism, tectonism, permeability.
  2. Harnessing the Heat: heat to power, types of power plant, types of geothermal system, liquid vs. vapor-dominated conditions, thermal features, wells, intro. to geochemical and geophysical signatures, introduction to production, injection wells, well field management.
  3. Geology and Geothermal Fluids: hydrothermal alteration, mineral deposition and dissolution, scaling, epithermal and mesothermal mineralization, hydrolysis, mineral equilibria, effects of magmas.
  4. Reservoir Characteristics: properties of two phase conditions – water and steam, interpreting temp. and press. profiles in wells (static and flowing), relationship to T/P in fields, effects of drawdown, well logging techniques.
  5. Remote Sensing Techniques, GIS Techniques, 3-D geologic modeling. Data processing and analysis techniques will be investigated for the analysis and integration of geologic, geochemical, and geophysical data for geothermal exploration.
  6. Geophysical Exploration Techniques: heat flow, gravity, magnetics, active and passive seismics, electrical methods, relationships to geologic settings, hydrothermal alteration, rock properties.
  7. Geochemical Exploration Techniques: chemical structure of systems, steam loss and mixing relations, mass, heat and chem. balances, geothermometers, gas chemistry, isotopes, sampling techniques, chem. res. monitoring, field changes with drawdown.
  8. Field Trip: Oct 8 & 9. Geothermal systems of Southern Utah.
  9. Direct Heat Applications: low temperature uses of geothermal fluids, district heating, horticulture, aquiculture, ground source heat pumps.
  10. Reservoir and Field Management – Physical Changes: environmental impacts (springs and ground water, steam zone formation, thermal activity, subsidence), reservoir monitoring (wells, tracers, precision gravity, seismicity, fluid chemistry).
  11. Reservoir and Field Management –Tracers: applications of tracers to determining fluid flow in reservoirs, time scales for fluid flow.
  12. Reservoir and Field Management –Chemistry: chemistry changes in reservoirs with production.
  13. Enhanced Geothermal Systems: hydrofracturing, induced seismicity, engineered fluid flow, power potential, the future of geothermal energy.
  14. Environmental and Permitting Issues
  15. International Case Studies
  16. Project presentations

Case Study Projects

Groups of students pick a developed geothermal system, review well and surface data, production trends, and address issues of future development possibilities. Possible data sets: Roosevelt (UT), Thermo (UT), Cove Fort (UT), Dixie Valley (NV), Geysers (CA).

Projects will be overseen by Professor David Chapman, Dr. Rick Allis, and Dr Joe Moore. Graduate students will complete a written report on the project.

Course Leaders

  • Crustal Geothermal Regime: Professor David Chapman (U of U)
  • Harnessing the Heat: Dr Rick Allis (UGS)
  • Geology and Geothermal Fluids: Dr Joe Moore (EGI, U of U)
  • Reservoir Engineering for Geoscientists: Dr Rick Allis
  • Geophysical Exploration Techniques: Professor David Chapman & Dr Phil Wannamaker (EGI, U of U)
  • Geochemical Exploration Techniques: Dr Joe Moore
  • Remote Sensing Techniques, GIS Techniques, 3-D Geologic Modeling: Dr Greg Nash (EGI, U of U)
  • Direct Heat Applications: Professor John Lund (Geoheat Center, OIT)
  • Reservoir and Field Management: Dr Rick Allis, Dr Joe Moore
  • Enhanced Geothermal Systems: Dr Rick Allis, Dr Steve Ingebritsen (USGS)

Field Trip Leaders: Prof. Chapman, Dr Joe Moore, Dr. Rick Allis