Hotspot: The Snake River geothermal drilling project - Initial report

John W. Shervais, Dennis Nielson, James P. Evans, Thomas Lachmar, Eric H. Christiansen, Lisa Morgan, W. C.Pat Shanks, Christopher Delahunty, Douglas R. Schmitt, Lee M. Liberty, David D. Blackwell, Jonathan M. Glen, James A. Kessler, Katherine E. Potter, Marlon M. Jean, Christopher J. Sant, Thomas G. Freeman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

13 Scopus citations


The Snake River volcanic province (SRP) overlies a thermal anomaly that extends deep into the mantle; it represents one of the highest heat flow provinces in North America. The primary goal of this project is to evaluate geothermal potential in three distinct settings: (1) Kimama site: inferred high sub-aquifer geothermal gradient associated with the intrusion of mafic magmas, (2) Kimberly site: a valley-margin setting where surface heat flow may be driven by the up-flow of hot fluids along buried caldera ring-fault complexes, and (3) Mountain Home site: a more traditional fault-bounded basin with thick sedimentary cover. The Kimama hole, on the axial volcanic zone, penetrated 1912 m of basalt with minor intercalated sediment; no rhyolite basement was encountered. Temperatures are isothermal through the aquifer (to 960 m), then rise steeply on a super-conductive gradient to an estimated bottom hole temperature of ∼98°C. The Kimberly hole is on the inferred margin of a buried rhyolite eruptive center, penetrated rhyolite with intercalated basalt and sediment to a TD of 1958 m. Temperatures are isothermal at 55-60°C below 400 m, suggesting an immense passive geothermal resource. The Mountain Home hole is located above the margin of a buried gravity high in the western SRP. It penetrates a thick section of basalt and lacustrine sediment overlying altered basalt flows, hyaloclastites, and volcanic sediments, with a TD of 1821 m. Artesian flow of geothermal water from 1745 m depth documents a power-grade resource that is now being explored in more detail. In-depth studies continue at all three sites, complemented by high-resolution gravity, magnetic, and seismic surveys, and by downhole geophysical logging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting 2012, GRC 2012 - Geothermal
Subtitle of host publicationReliable, Renewable, Global
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2012
EventGeothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting 2012 - Geothermal: Reliable, Renewable, Global, GRC 2012 - Reno, NV, United States
Duration: Sep 30 2012Oct 3 2012

Publication series

NameTransactions - Geothermal Resources Council
Volume36 2
ISSN (Print)0193-5933


OtherGeothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting 2012 - Geothermal: Reliable, Renewable, Global, GRC 2012
CountryUnited States
CityReno, NV

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Basalt
  • Exploration
  • Hotspot
  • Idaho
  • Rhyolite
  • Snake River Plain

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