Printer Friendly

Into the depths of a volcanic system.

Into the depths of a volcanic system

In an ambitious project requiring special high-temperature technology, geoscientists last month started drilling a 1.75-kilometer-deep hole into the Valles Caldera, a large volcanic crater in northern New Mexico. Through this conduit into the hot depths of the dormant volcanic system, researchers over the next four years will collect information that might ultimately help in harnessing geothermal energy and in discovering mineral deposits.

The Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science, which is sponsoring a large part of the work, has already drilled two shallower holes in the caldera. As with the earlier two, investigators working on the new hole will focus attention on the rock cores pulled up during drilling and on the underground fluids collected from different depths in the drillhole. Circulating through pores and cracks in the rocks, these fluids, mostly water, carry heat away from a chamber of molten rock that lies about 5 kilometers below the surface.

At some geothermal systems resembling the Valles Caldera, power plants convert this heat energy into electricity. However, basic science is the thrust of the work at Valles, says project co-chief scientist Jamie N. Gardner of the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laborartory. Through drillhole experiments, scientists hope to learn more about the flow of fluid and steam. Aside from heat, the fluids also transport dissolved minerals that precipitate out and form deposits, which can be mined in inactive or "fossil" geothermal systems. In the new hole, researchers want to catch the mineralization process in the act, possibly uncovering information that will help investigators find such fossil deposits at other locations.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:drilling in Valles Caldera
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 13, 1988
Previous Article:Seals' story written in their own hand.
Next Article:Most sensitive photoelectric semiconductor.

Related Articles
Volcanic history in the Aleutian arc.
GPS steps forward with a small stumble.
Drilling begins in search of molten energy.
Inner space: the Soviet Union and West Germany delve into earth's deep secrets as the United States looks on.
Did volcanism scar Mars' canyons?
Venus: surprising features sculpted in lava.
DES sons face no fertility problems.
California volcano starts to stir.
Naming Newberry.
Measure 37 puts Newberry Crater at risk.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters