New role of geothermal exploration

Masami Nakagawa, Nicole M. Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The availability of conventional hydrothermal geothermal energy is location specific but reliable, clean and renewable. Even in today's increasingly supportive social environment towards renewable energy, geothermal energy is often not included when renewable energy sources are discussed. The authors believe that education of and better communication with the general public increase the visibility of geothermal energy as a uniquely viable resource. So how do we engage the public to promote geothermal? The authors are aware that the engagement of the general public always takes time, and the best strategy for building trusted engagement is through sharing information. The first phase of any geothermal resource development is a series of surveys, including satellite imagery and aerial photography, volcanology studies, geologic and structural mapping, geochemical surveys, geophysical surveys and temperature gradient drilling. The initial types of surveys (satellite imagery and aerial photography, volcanology studies, geologic and structural mapping) mostly rely on existing data and literature; however, geochemical and geophysical surveys become more visible to the communities where the surveys are conducted. The last survey method, temperature gradient drilling, is the most invasive and has the most impact to the communities but is an absolutely necessary step to attract investors. Temperature gradient data provides the first direct measurement of the locally available geothermal energy resource, and without this information it is usually too risky for the investors to move forward to the next phase of the development. As the possibility of attracting investors increases, concerns of the impacted communities also increase. The authors share their experience that when surveying activities are strongly supported by the community, and the survey data is shared with the community members, the level of concerns can be reduced. The authors have been working with a small community called Rico in Colorado to understand the nature of geothermal as a resource for their local economic development. This paper describes why community support and engagement are so important for successful geothermal resource development. Colorado School of Mines shares the resistivity results with Rico to gain the community's support through the community's understanding of the availability of the resource. Geothermal exploration unfolds the mystery of hidden underground resources, and Colorado School of Mines has been sharing the joy of exploration with the community.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeothermal Energy
Subtitle of host publicationPower To Do More - Geothermal Resources Council 2017 Annual Meeting, GRC 2017
PublisherGeothermal Resources Council
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)0934412227
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventGeothermal Resources Council 41st Annual Meeting - Geothermal Energy: Power To Do More, GRC 2017 - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Oct 1 2017Oct 4 2017

Publication series

NameTransactions - Geothermal Resources Council
ISSN (Print)0193-5933


OtherGeothermal Resources Council 41st Annual Meeting - Geothermal Energy: Power To Do More, GRC 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geophysics


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