Geothermics and Geodynamics

Heat energy has been exploited since the Roman times, where earth’s heat was used to warm public baths. The heat distribution within the earth is determined by tectonic history, with easily exploitable geothermal reservoirs found in volcanic hydrothermal systems and volcanic hot spots. More difficult to exploit are continental regions far from volcanic provinces, such as continental Europe. Exploitable geothermal energy using current technology ranges of 10-300 °C from depths of 10-5000 meters, but the future goal in Switzerland and Europe is to generate electricity, requiring that (expensive) boreholes need to be drilled to depths of 4 to5 km to reach suitable temperatures.

The Geothermics, Geodynamics, and Geophysics Laboratory explores and models the underlying processes of the lithospheric geodynamic to understand fracture and flow processes with direct relevance to enhanced geothermal systems where high-pressure fluids are used to create fracture networks. We employ geophysics to find exploitable geothermal targets, and develop High Performance Computing (HPC) algorithms to simulate the controlling physics.