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Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet (20%) and from radioactive decay of minerals (80%).
Worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 24 countries. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.
As the book, Geothermal Utilisation in Iceland, published by the Reykjavík Energy Authority states, “Draining geothermal water is quite complicated. The largest problem is the risk of silica deposits clogging both pipes and boreholes.” It was also explained to me that once boreholes have been dug, fissures and cracks emanate from the hole. The pressure of water being inserted back into this hole can exacerbate these cracks and fissures and potentially cause earthquakes. Experimentation with reinserting the geothermal by-product into the depths of the earth, where it initially came from, is still underway. Unfortunately, this experimentation has resulted in EARTHQUAKES in the neighboring town of Hveragerði.
A major problem with not speaking or reading Icelandic is the difficultly in staying up to date on current issues. This is a current issue! While I am unable to read the newspaper articles, I heard from two sources (one academic, one in the field of landscape architecture) that Hveragerði has recently endured earthquakes as a result of experimentation at the Hellisheiði Power Station, and community members are upset and beginning to lose patience.
To cause earthquakes that affect a town of 2,300 people is no small matter.
On December 8, 2006, Markus Häring caused some 30 earthquakes -- the largest registering 3.4 on the Richter scale -- in Basel, Switzerland. Häring is not a supervillain. He's a geologist, and he had nothing but good intentions when he injected high-pressure water into rocks three miles below the surface, attempting to generate electricity through a process called enhanced geothermal. But he produced earthquakes instead, and when seismic analysis confirmed that the quakes were centered near the drilling site, city officials charged him with $9 million worth of damage to buildings.
Closed for Business: This geothermal drill in Switzerland was shut down after it caused 100 earthquakes in a week. Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Häring was acquitted last December -- it was ruled that he had not intentionally created the tremors -- but his project was nixed for good late last year following a scientific review that calculated a 15 percent chance that further drilling could spur a major earthquake causing more than $500 million in damage. The debacle is bringing enhanced-geothermal projects here in the U.S. under new scrutiny.
In a recent case in California, a planned EGS site at the Geysers, a geothermal power field about 100 kilometres north of San Francisco, met with public resistance and fell under review by the Department of Energy (even though the company involved had completed an appropriate seismicity review). In September, that project was suspended because of technical difficulties.
Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), a new type of geothermal power technologies that do not require natural convective hydrothermal resources, are known to be associated with induced seismicity. EGS involves pumping fluids at pressure to enhance or create permeability through the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques.
Hot dry rock (HDR) EGS actively creates geothermal resources through hydraulic stimulation. Depending on the rock properties, and on injection pressures and fluid volume, the reservoir rock may respond with tensile failure, as is common in the oil and gas industry, or with shear failure of the rock's existing joint set, as is thought to be the main mechanism of reservoir growth in EGS efforts.
Coal Mining Causing Earthquakes, Study Says
Richard A. Lovett
for National Geographic News
January 3, 2007
The most damaging earthquake in Australia's history was caused by humans, new research says.
The magnitude-5.6 quake that struck Newcastle in New South Wales on December 28, 1989, killed 13 people, injured 160, and caused 3.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of damage (Australia map).
That quake was triggered by changes in tectonic forces caused by 200 years of underground coal mining, according to a study by Christian D. Klose of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York.
The quake wasn't enormous, but Australia isn't generally considered to be seismically active and the city's buildings weren't designed to withstand a temblor of that magnitude, Klose said.
All told, he added, the monetary damage done by the earthquake exceeded the total value of the coal extracted in the area.
It seems that any type of land excavation can potentially cause earthquakes. Researchers in the U.S. have determined that 200 years of underground coalmining triggered the Newcastle Earthquake. This earthquake killed people and cost $3.5 billion worth of damage, which is more than the coal mining there made (1).
Recent earthquakes in Ohio and Oklahoma have been directly linked to deep wells used to dispose of liquid wastes for hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" of natural gas, according to geological experts. And they expect more earthquakes to come as the industry continues to expand across the eastern United States.
A boom in gas production using hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" of natural gas has played a role in decreasing US dependence on foreign oil and coal and helped cut energy prices, but evidence is mounting that the process may come at a price.
Originally posted by boncho
reply to post by Uncinus
Nice addition to the thread. Here is a good example of coal mining that caused an earthquake, and ironically enough, the damage was more than the coal that was excavated:
Originally posted by luxordelphi
reply to post by boncho
Knew about the heat generation in Iceland but never knew about the earthquakes that go with it. How about the regular way to get oil? When it's drilled out, water is put in it's place and water doesn't have anywhere near the viscosity and lubricant attributes of oil. Earthquakes happen alot in those oil countries too.
Does drilling for oil cause earthquakes?
In some parts of the World, earthquakes have been found to be associated with oil exploration.