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In 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla (a caldera in northeast Iceland) as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) unexpectedly penetrated into magma (molten rock) at only 2,100 meters (6,890 feet) depth, with a temperature of 900-1000 °C. The borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells being drilled by the IDDP in Iceland in the search for high-temperature geothermal resources. The January 2014 issue of the international journal Geothermics is dedicated to scientific and engineering results arising from that unusual occurrence.
The issue is edited by Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, who also co-authored three of the research papers in the special issue with Icelandic colleagues.
Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii. The IDDP, in cooperation with Iceland’s National Power Company, the operator of the Krafla geothermal power plant, decided to investigate the hole further and bear part of the substantial costs involved. In the future, the success of this drilling and research project could lead to a revolution in the energy efficiency of high-temperature geothermal areas worldwide.
The IDDP is a collaboration of three energy companies—HS Energy Ltd., National Power Company and Reykjavik Energy—and a government agency, the National Energy Authority of Iceland. It will drill the next borehole, IDDP-2, in southwest Iceland at Reykjanes in 2014-2015. From the onset, international collaboration has been important to the project, and in particular a consortium of US scientists, coordinated by Elders, has been very active, authoring several research papers in the special issue of Geothermics.