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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 65 (1981)

Issue: 8. (August)

First Page: 1500

Last Page: 1500

Title: Geothermal Energy Resources in Mid-Continent: ABSTRACT

Author(s): Don W. Steeples

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Awareness of the energy availability problems in the United States has led to increasing curiosity about and interest in geothermal energy. The U. S. Department of Energy has contracted with state agencies in several Mid-Continent states to evaluate geothermal prospects in the Mid-Continent region. The data being gathered will augment and update the data published by the AAPG from their geothermal survey conducted about 10 years ago. The DOE program not only includes support for accurate geothermal gradient and heat flow measurements, but also includes programs in gravity, aeromagnetics, and geochemistry.

This program will not discover any new "Old Faithful" type of geothermal resource. However, preliminary indications are that heat pump applications for space heating may be economically viable in this decade, especially in southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. Geothermal gradients in that region are in the 50°C/km (2.8°F/hundred ft) range in the upper 300 m of the sedimentary section. The gradients decrease drastically below this relatively shallow depth to about 15 to 20°C/km (0.8 to 1.1°F/hundred ft). It is not yet clear whether this change in gradient is due to changes in thermal conductivity in the sediments or to hydrothermal convection.

Low-grade geothermal energy could be produced from brine that comes to the surface as a by-product of oil production. Such energy could be used for space heating or even to eventually drive oil well pumps as low-temperature-differential engines are developed. The energy that could be extracted from such brine is six times the energy required to pump it if initial temperature is 150°F/km (66°C) and final temperature is 100°F (38°C) and a lift of 3,000 ft (915 m) with 50% pump efficiency is assumed.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists