University of Nevada faculty and graduate students from the geophysics department recently reported a new exploration project focused on blind geothermal systems using UAV magnetics. The university stated that geophysicists could now carry out bigger regional surveys for mineralogical or geothermal interests by enhancing the ease of deployment and margins of safety.
Geothermal power is a green energy source that has the potential to provide baseload power continually and is being produced in various regions across the globe. The state of Nevada has many geothermal fluids that rise to the surface and can be used to produce power. However, most of these geothermal systems demonstrate no active features, such as fumaroles or hot springs, which makes them blind at the surface.
Magnetics surveying could help uncover boundaries of various types of rocks and buried faults that offer hints to the location of pathways of geothermal fluids. While an unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) magnetometry crew made up of a pair of people can cover a distance of 60 to 200 line-kilometers daily on flat terrain, the ground magnetics surveyor can only hike between 15 to 20 kilometers every day. This distance decreases if the surveyor is used to cover high terrain, which can put a ground operator in harm’s way during the time it would take to conduct a regular survey.
In addition to being green energy, geothermal energy also happens to be environmentally friendly and offers stable contributions of energy to the power grid. Exploration and research is presently being conducted to invent novel geothermal resources.
University of Nevada’s Center for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs UAV pilot and laboratory coordinator Christopher Kratt explained that geologic structures that were not easily seen could be interpreted from horizontal gradient maps. These models, he said, helped guide geophysicists on where to concentrate on with regard to exploration.
The Nevada geothermal play fairway analysis had been the first project to demonstrate the state’s geothermal possibilities. The project was financed by the Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office through a grant that had been given to the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy, which currently resides in the University’s Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.
Under investigation is the Humboldt Range, which is among a few other sites that have been ranked highly. The range is being explored using UAV magnetometry. The study is being carried out is also using UgCS and Geometrics software, which was designed by SPH Engineering.
The efforts by the University of Nevada are complemented by exploration activities undertaken by other entities. In fact, Excellon Resources Inc. (TSX: EXN) (NYSE American: EXN) (FSE: E4X2) has ongoing metal exploration projects in Idaho, Mexico and Germany.
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