Accelerating exploration for geothermal vitality with UAV magnetometry carried out in North-Central Nevada – Drones Information


Reno, Nevada, USA; Riga, Latvia – March 3, 2021 – University of Nevada Reno Geophysics Faculty and PhD students announce new exploration for blind geothermal systems using UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) magnetometry. The study area is located in the Humboldt Range, Nevada. With improved margins of safety and ease of deployment, geophysicists can now perform larger regional analyzes for geothermal or mineralogical interests.

Geothermal energy is generated in many regions of the world and is a green energy source that can provide base load electricity around the clock. Nevada is well endowed with electricity generating geothermal fluids that rise to the surface along distance-limited expansion faults. Many of these geothermal systems are blind on the surface and lack active geothermal features such as hot springs or fumaroles.

Magnetic surveys can reveal buried faults and boundaries of various types of rock, which can provide clues as to where geothermal fluid paths are. A soil magnet surveyor can hike 15 to 20 km per day in flat terrain. There is much less coverage in high relief areas, which puts the land operator at greater risk of injury during the days or weeks required for a typical survey. In contrast, a two-person UAV magnet crew can cover between 60 and 200 line kilometers per day.

Geothermal energy is environmentally friendly and provides constant energy contributions to a power grid. There is currently active research and exploration to develop new geothermal resources.

“Geological structures that are hidden by the pool filling are interpreted on the basis of the total magnetic intensity reduced to the pole and the horizontal gradient maps. These models tell you where to focus on more detailed exploration, ”comments Christopher Kratt, UAV pilot and laboratory coordinator at the Center for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs (CTEMPs) at the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The original project that indicated the geothermal potential in this part of the US was to analyze the geothermal play fairway in Nevada. It was funded by the Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Bureau as part of a grant to the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy, which is housed in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology of the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Humboldt range is one of several high-level locations that were examined with UAV magnetic surveys in 2021. The research is carried out using a UAV integrated with a MagArrow magnetometer from Geometrics and UgCS software from SPH Engineering.

To learn more about the project, watch the video “UAV Magnetics UNR Geothermal Energy Research”.

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