Home Green Consumer Newest Geothermal Hotspot – West Virginia

Newest Geothermal Hotspot – West Virginia


In 2004, researchers at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, and colleagues created the Geothermal Map of North America. The map charted the potential for geothermal energy nationwide. Two years ago Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the search engine giant, hired the SMU scientists to update the map. After four years of analyzing temperature data from oil and gas firms the scientists finished updating the geothermal map.  One of the biggest surprises coming from the data is that the largest geothermal hot spot in the eastern U.S. is in West Virginia.  West Virginia sits atop several hot patches of Earth, some as warm as 392˚F and as shallow as 3 miles. If engineers are able to tap the heat, the state could become a producer of green energy for the region. The Google.org-funded effort added measurements from more than 1450 wells in the state. The warm spots were found at depths of 3 to 6 miles over a 7200 square-mile area. By comparison, geothermal hot spots in Nevada reach 392°F at 1.5 miles below the surface, and steam produced from them runs turbines to create electricity. Iceland, meanwhile, has 392˚F temperatures just below the surface and uses warm water to heat buildings and showers throughout Reykjavik and elsewhere.  Geothermal energy has been around fro a long time, but this country has not taken advantage of the resources we have at our disposal to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.  With this new data in hand, private and government efforts should focus on expanding this sustainable unlimited resource.


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