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February 27, 2008
By John Trent
Researchers with the University’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) recently discovered the existence of direct evidence of an active geothermal system in the Teels Marsh area of Mineral County in rural Nevada.
According to Lisa Shevenell, director of the Great Basin Center, no thermal springs or wells are known to exist in the Teels Marsh basin. She said the shallow temperature anomalies are believed to be caused by geothermal groundwater upwelling along a fault on the western margin of basin.
“After reaching the groundwater table, these fluids likely mix with non-thermal groundwaters before reaching the Teels Marsh playa, where a portion of such fluids exit to the surface to form cold springs whose chemical compositions indicate high temperatures at depth,” she said.
The discovery is part of an ongoing effort by Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy scientists to catalogue and record all of the state’s geothermal assets. In addition to the research done at Teels Marsh, scientists from the University have also measured shallow temperature anomalies in other areas of the Great Basin, including near Tungsten Mountain in the Edwards Creek Valley of Churchill County. A shallow temperature survey is still in progress at Rhodes Marsh in Mineral County.
Many of the areas described above and on the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy’s website are available for nomination for inclusion in future Bureau of Land Management geothermal lease auctions. The evidence from Teels Marsh comes from mapping surprisingly high temperatures at a depth of two meters below the surface. Researchers with the project noted that the temperatures occurred in two separate zones, both of which are adjacent to the fault. The two temperature anomalies have a combined length parallel to the fault of a little more than two miles.
Maps and digital temperature data are available at the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy website.