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Joint Groundwater and Energy Study: Characterization of the Hydrogeologic and Geothermal Conditions of the Northwest Volcanic Aquifers



A joint study between the USGS Water and Energy Mission Areas has the main goals of quantifying groundwater resources and geothermal energy potential in much of eastern Oregon, northeastern California, southwestern Idaho, and northernmost Nevada (figure 1). This study area lies within a broadly-defined Northwest Volcanic Province (NVP) that has been dominated by volcanic eruptions that have shaped the landscape over the past approximately 17 million years. Although the sparsely populated study area has been the subject of relatively little systematic hydrogeologic study, previous geothermal research has identified high geothermal heat flow (figure 2) that may be used to generate large amounts of electricity. In this area, groundwater is the major source of year-round dependable water supply, and water is a necessary component of geothermal energy development. Further, because flowing groundwater moves heat beneath the earth’s surface, interpretation of geothermal heat flow patterns are greatly improved when groundwater flow patterns are taken into account.

Erick Burns (groundwater)
Jonathan Glen (geothermal energy)


For more information, contact:

Director, Oregon Water Science Center
U.S Geological Survey
2130 SW 5th Ave
Portland, OR 97201
Phone: (503) 251-3200

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