Various data types over a geothermal area. Data includes temperature logs, 3D seismic, gravity cube, surface geology contacts, aerial imagery, and surface gravitometers. Data courtesy USDOE Geothermal Data Repository.
The harnessing of geothermal energy from the subsurface involves a multi-step process of resource identification, exploration, development, and production. Data plays a guiding role in making each phase of the geothermal development project a success. The data collected during the geothermal exploration phase allows project engineers to analyze uncertainties of subsurface geoscientific properties and potential production capabilities.
Geothermal data coming from different sources often have varying properties. The integration and visualization of geothermal data in a 3D format is the most efficient way to analyze a wide range of data to make an informed decision.
Types of Geothermal Data
The understanding of geothermal resources is driven by a large amount of data acquired during the geothermal exploration phase. Various exploration techniques, including geoscientific surveys, downhole measurement, and remote sensing, contribute to the capturing of the essential geospatial data for subsurface characterization. The data acquired may include:
- Well log data for subsurface petrophysical characterization, developing temperature logs
- Core data obtained by drilling boreholes to obtain the rock sample. Techniques such as X-ray, tomographic scanning, and thin section analysis provide information regarding core porosity, permeability, subsurface homogeneity, and reservoir quality.
- 2D and 3D seismic data for locating faults and fractures and geothermal fluids in the reservoir
- Gravity data for determining local and regional rock structure, densities, and porosities in the fault zones
- Magnetotelluric data for determining the subsurface resistivity. The data is also useful in detecting geothermal anomalies including the presence of faults and caprocks
- Heat flow data through wireline logging to determine fluid temperature along the depth of each borehole
- Surface data including geological and topographical mapping
- Infrastructure data obtained through GIS mapping
- Aerial photography to identify intrusions and terrain obstacles
- Remote sensing data for capturing terrain obstacles as well as identifying surface compositions
- Hydrogeological data to indicate flow path and lithological features like faults and fractures
This vast range of data is often collected in unique formats from differing service companies which makes the data analysis process even more challenging. By integrating and visualizing these data in a single platform, geothermal engineers and geoscientists will be able to make a decision about geothermal development and the potential recovery process.
Visualizing Geothermal Data for Enhanced Analysis
The information obtained from the extensive geothermal data can be used to enhance the understanding of the geothermal reservoir and its production potential. Through the integration of these data, each data type can be cross-correlated to derive a meaningful analysis. The analysis can be further enhanced by creating an effective 3D model that facilitates asset teams to monitor the dynamics of the reservoir, determine the optimal well location and power plant designs and identify the potential of other reserves on a local and regional scale.
Data integration and visualization technology like DGI’s CoViz 4D efficiently integrate multi-disciplinary data into a single geospatial environment. 3D visualization of these integrated data allows asset teams to monitor the geothermal reservoir characteristics and fluid flow to give a more complete picture of the economic viability of an existing or potential geothermal project.
Using CoViz 4D for Geothermal Visualization
CoViz 4D is uniquely suited to the importation of disparate data and a robust visualization of information in a 3D or 4D format. The geospatial data obtained through the various surface and subsurface surveys and logging methods are essential for comprehensive geothermal visualization. The software further enhances the visualization by accommodating the file types like .kml and .kmz from open data sources into its data registry. By integrating, correlating, and visualizing the new and existing geoscience and engineering data, asset teams can make an informed decision during each phase of a geothermal project.