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Defining, exploring, imaging and assessing reservoirs for potential heat exchange - Potsdam, Germany, Workshop1
Defining, exploring, imaging and assessing reservoirs for potential heat exchange - Potsdam, Germany, Workshop1
6-8 November 2006 GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ)
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Geologic and Geophysical Analyses of Geothermal Fields in the Northwestern Great Basin, Western USA: Characterizing Structural and Tectonic Controls
The northwestern Great Basin of the western USA includes one of the youngest and 
least developed parts of the Pacific – North American transform boundary.  Here, a 
system of right-lateral strike-slip faults known as the Walker Lane accommodates 
~20% of the dextral motion between the Pacific and North American plates.  The rest 
of the motion is taken up along the San Andreas fault.  Similar to the San Andreas, 
the Walker Lane terminates northwestward, but unlike the San Andreas, the terminus 
of the intra-continental Walker Lane is not accommodated in a triple junction.  
Dextral shear from the Walker Lane is instead transferred to NW-directed extension 
within the northwestern Great Basin.  

Some of the most prolific geothermal activity in North America occurs within the 
northwestern Great Basin. Magmatism is not the cause of this activity, because it 
generally ceased 3-10 Ma.  The abundant activity probably results from enhanced 
dilation on N- to NNE-striking normal faults induced by the transfer of NW-directed 
dextral shear from the Walker Lane to NW-directed extension in the Great Basin.  
Although faults are known to control most geothermal activity in the Great Basin, 
few detailed investigations have been conducted on specific structural controls of 
individual fields.  Because knowledge of such structures would facilitate 
exploration models, we have embarked upon a comprehensive study of the controls on 
several geothermal systems.  This work includes detailed geologic mapping, 
structural analysis, and geophysical investigations.  

Our findings from geothermal fields in the Black Rock Desert, Pyramid Lake, and 
Carson Sink regions suggest that many systems occupy discrete steps in fault zones 
or lie in belts of intersecting, overlapping, and/or terminating faults.  In 
addition, most fields are associated with steeply dipping faults and, in many 
cases, with Quaternary faults.  The structural settings favoring geothermal 
activity all involve subvertical conduits of highly fractured rock within fault 
zones oriented approximately perpendicular to the least principal stress.  Features 
indicative of these settings that may be helpful in guiding exploration include: 1) 
major steps in range-fronts, 2) interbasinal highs, 3) mountain ranges consisting 
of relatively low, discontinuous ridges, and 4) lateral terminations of mountain 
Id: 26
Place: GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ)
14473 Potsdam, Telegrafenberg
Starting date:
06-Nov-2006   14:00
Duration: 25'
Contribution type: Talk
Primary Authors: Dr. FAULDS, James (University of Nevada, Reno)
Co-Authors: Dr. COOLBAUGH, Mark (University of Nevada, Reno)
Mr. VICE, Garrett (University of Nevada, Reno)
Presenters: Dr. FAULDS, James
Material: slides Slides

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