Los Alamos National Laboratory, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, has been developing geothermal energy technology for nearly 20 years. The technology and experimental verification concepts developed by the Laboratory's Hot Dry Rock Program have demonstrated tremendous potential for what is now known as heat mining—the creation of a man-made heat-exchange system in hot, fractured rock. This method was developed because much of the Earth's crustal heat resources are found in impermeable rock that is not capable of supporting the hydrothermal system required for a traditional geothermal resource.
Geologists at Los Alamos have contributed to the fundamental aspects of this geothermal energy program since its inception. Because the Laboratory's Hot Dry Rock experimental facility is located near the Valles caldera of the Jemez volcanic field in northern New Mexico, much of our geological research has focused on understanding the ultimate heat source for that experiment: the magma body below the Valles caldera. One of the most complex problems we have studied is how hydrothermal systems develop in calderas and the relationship of these systems to volcanic vents and rock permeability. Research drilling within the Valles caldera and the Long Valley caldera of California has expanded our knowledge of these relationships.
During the past decade, we have applied the experience gained in the Jemez volcanic field to numerous volcanic areas throughout the world to evaluate their geothermal energy resources. This book is a testament of our firm belief that volcanic geothermal systems are uniquely defined by specific combinations of tectonic environment and volcanic structure. In recognition of these conditions, we have attempted to develop a general perspective of such geothermal systems from a volcanological viewpoint. Modern volcanological concepts have not been adequately applied to the numerous geothermal ventures now being developed
throughout the world. With the application of volcanological observations, one can quickly locate the areas within volcanic fields that are most likely to contain hydrothermal systems. In addition, volcanoes and their products may be seen as the initial windows to subsurface conditions such as the thermal regime and lithology; this information can greatly reduce the error involved in locating exploration drill holes and geophysical surveys.
This book is a collation from vast amounts of many individuals' previous work in volcanology and geothermal exploration. The key to our presentation of this earlier work is the development of often unrecognized links between these two fields. In review of many modern volcanological tools and their potential bearing upon geothermal energy exploration, we present numerous case histories of geothermal development in volcanic areas. This approach encourages the reader to begin thinking about volcanoes and geothermal energy in parallel and—we hope—stimulates thought processes that might uncover still more links.
Publication of Volcanology and Geothermal Energy is the result of the dedication and enthusiastic support of numerous individuals. The University of California Press, in conjunction with Los Alamos National Laboratory, fosters creation of books that pass on the knowledge and experience gained in sometimes obscure studies at the Laboratory. We thank Elizabeth Knoll and David Sharp for their roles in this collaboration. The U.S. Department of Energy, through Laboratory Directed Research and Development at Los Alamos, dedicated initial funds for the writing of the book; illustration, design, and editing have been supported by Laboratory Director's funds.
Jody Heiken should by all rights be listed not only as the editor but also as a contributing author. In addition to steadfastly and thoroughly editing the often disparate bits and pieces of text she received from us, she recognized and filled gaps in information, corrected inconsistencies, and discerned technical problems with sound scientific judgement. She also developed and implemented the book design. As authors, we owe the actual completion of the book to her long hours of work. Her firm faith in our knowledge of the subject often bridged the gap between our files of data and creation of the text.
Lynn Phipps of Tech Reps, assisted by Mike Dominguez, showed ingenious creativity in developing the more than 250 illustrations in this book, many of which were adapted from previous publications and required numerous modifications to fit the evolving text and format of the book. She also was responsible for design of the chapter icons and the book cover. Lynn's enthusiasm for this often frustrating work has served as a tremendous inspiration.
Numerous scientific colleagues have enthusiastically supported our work on this book, although we name but a few here. Drs. Richard V. Fisher and Wendell Duffield thoroughly reviewed the book, and much of the information contained in it is attributed to their fruitful careers in volcanology and geothermal energy. Wes Myers, John Whetten, and Wayne Morris provided institutional support and logistics for our studies. Fraser Goff has been an extremely knowledgeable and supportive compatriot in developing our ideas and organizing field work in geothermal areas.
On another level, our wives, Ann and Jody, and our families have happily accompanied and patiently waited with us through years of exploration in a jungle of information and experience, which has required laboratory research and travel to remote geothermal fields. We hope that they also will reap the benefits we have received in completing this work.