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ENGR 670 Geology of Geothermal Energy Resources

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Return to the Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy program description.

Surveys the characteristics, distribution, and energy potential of geothermal resources, both world-wide and in Nevada and emphasizes the geologic foundations for such systems.

About the Course

This course surveys the characteristics, distribution and energy potential of geothermal resources, both world-wide and in Nevada and emphasizes the geologic foundations for such systems.

Course content includes:

  1. Geologic controls on distribution and nature of geothermal systems
  2. The main types of geothermal systems and how energy is harnessed using current technology
  3. Potential geothermal resources that may provide useful energy with emerging technology

This class will concentrate on how geology impacts the character, size, and design utilization of geothermal energy resources.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, a student will be able to:

  • Relate geothermal energy to other forms of renewable energy and fossil fuel resources, including environmental impacts and energy availability;
  • Characterize the geologic settings of geothermal resources making use of plate tectonics, rock types, and geologic structures;
  • Classify geothermal systems according to modes of heat flow, such as convective (liquid- and vapor-dominated systems) or conductive (geopressured and hot sedimentary aquifers), and to type of heat source (magmatic v. amagmatic or extensional);
  • Explain the how geothermal resources are found and evaluated using geological, geochemical, and geophysical techniques to maximize success and minimize risk; and
  • Apply learned content to write a report on a geothermal topic or site of interest.


Dave R. Boden, Ph.D.,

Dave Boden is currently Professor of Geoscience at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. Since 2007, he has taught a course on the geology of geothermal resources as part of the college's certificate and applied associate of science degree programs in renewable energy (geothermal emphasis). Prior to coming to Truckee Meadows Community College in 2004, Dr. Boden worked in the minerals industry for about 20 years looking for base and precious metal deposits-the fossil analogs of today's geothermal systems. Dr. Boden has earned degrees in geology and geological engineering from UC Davis, Colorado School of Mines, and Stanford University and is currently involved in writing an introductory textbook on the geology of geothermal resources. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and skiing to backcountry hot springs with family and friends.

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