Geology student wins best in Basin and Range presentation at national conference

University graduate student’s research mapped out fault lines and geothermal areas of the Black Rock Desert

2/13/2014 - By: Patrick Harris
Sabina Kraushaar at Black Rock Sabina Kraushaar, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, has received awards for her thesis project research on fault lines and water in the Black Rock Desert. She received best in presentation at the Geothermal Resources Council in Las Vegas, Nev., and honorable mention for a corresponding poster featured at the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous in Laramie, Wyo.

Geology student Sabina Kraushaar won best in presentation for the Basin and Range session at the 37th Annual Geothermal Resources Council Meeting in Las Vegas. More than 150 presentations were given during the convention, each judged on technical content, quality of visual aids and the presenter's communication skills.

"My project is just a small piece that adds to the goal of characterizing geothermal systems in the Basin and Range," Kraushaar said. "There is a whole team of graduate students and faculty at the University who are testing different and effective ways to explore for geothermal resources. I am honored to have had the opportunity to contribute to this research." 

Kraushaar's presentation, "Structural Controls of the MacFarlane Geothermal System," began as a research project for her masters degree in geology. She visited the Black Rock Desert to map out fault lines and geothermal activity. To do this, she ran a variety of tests, including geological mapping, temperature readings and magnetic surveys.

"I found some really interesting results," Kraushaar said.

Kraushaar's research, based in the College of Science, dealt with a uniquely oriented travertine mound in the Black Rock Desert, with a hot springs coming out of one end. Her goal was to map out all of the faults in the area to see what the structural controls of the mound and hot geothermal fluids were. She found that the travertine and geothermal waters were related to a relay ramp structure in a major normal fault system. In addition, Kraushaar affirmed previous findings that the geothermal water running through the desert fault was too cold to be used for power generation without extensive costs.

"Sabina is the first recipient of the Geothermal Fellowship from the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy here at the University," said Patricia Cashman, research professor and Kraushaar's advisor. "She works hard, and is invariably cheerful; all of her colleagues and advisors are delighted to see her professional contributions recognized."

Following her award-winning presentation at the Geothermal Resources Council, she presented at the University for her thesis defense and hopes to speak at a Four Corners Geological Society meeting in Colorado. She also created a poster describing the study and her findings. This poster was featured at the AAPG Job Fair during the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous in Laramie, Wyo., and won honorable mention.

"I could not have completed my research without the help of the faculty and students of the geology department and my advisor," Kraushaar said. "My advisor, Pat, has pushed me to become a better geologist and writer, and has given me so much useful feedback. I feel lucky to have worked with someone who is such an excellent structural geologist and who cares greatly about my research."   

Kraushaar first became interested in geology during an introductory class at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Col. She was also inspired by the book Basin and Range by John McPhee, which engaged her interests in Nevada tectonics. After receiving her undergraduate degree at Fort Lewis, she transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno. She will be graduating in May 2014 and hopes to pursue a career in the geothermal or gas and oil industry.

The Geothermal Resources Council is an international educational association dedicated to developing members and educating the community on geothermal resources.


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