A deep geothermal exploration well at Eastgate, Weardale, UK: A novel exploration concept for low-enthalpy resources

David A.C. Manning, P. L. Younger, F. W. Smith, J. M. Jones, D. J. Dufton, S. Diskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The first deep geothermal exploration borehole (995 m) to be drilled in the UK for over 20 years was completed at Eastgate (Weardale, Co. Durham) in December 2004. It penetrated 4 m of sandy till (Quaternary), 267.5 m of Lower Carboniferous strata (including the Whin Sill), and 723.5 m of the Weardale Granite (Devonian), with vein mineralization occurring to 913 m. Unlike previous geothermal investigations of UK radiothermal granites that focused on the hot dry rock concept, the Eastgate Borehole was designed to intercept deep fracture-hosted brines associated with the major, geologically ancient, hydrothermal. vein systems. Abundant brine (≤46 °C was encountered within natural fracture networks of very high permeability (transmissivity c. 2000 darcy m) within granite. Evidence for the thermal history of the Carboniferous rocks from phytoclast reflectance measurements shows very high values (≥3.3%) indicating maximum temperatures of 130 °C prior to intrusion of the Whin Sill. Geochemical analysis of cuttings samples from the Eastgate Borehole suggests radiothermal heat production rates for unaltered Weardale Granite averaging 4.1 μW m-3, with a mean geothermal gradient of 38 °C km-1. The Eastgate Borehole has significant exploitation potential for direct heat uses; it demonstrates the potential for seeking hydrothermal vein systems within radiothermal granites as targets for geothermal resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-382
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the geological society
Volume164
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

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