Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

John W. Shervais


John W. Shervais


Thomas E. Lachmar


James P. Evans


The Snake River Plain is located in the southern part of the state of Idaho. The eastern plain, on which this study focuses, is a trail of volcanics from the Yellowstone hotspot. Three exploratory geothermal wells were drilled on the Snake River Plain. This project analyzes basaltic core from the first well at Kimama, north of Burley, Idaho. The objectives of this project are to establish zones of geothermal alteration and analyze the potential for geothermal power production using sub-aquifer resources on the axial volcanic zone of the Snake River Plain. Thirty samples from 1,912 m of core were sampled and analyzed for clay content and composition using X-ray diffraction. Observations from core samples and geophysical logs are also used to establish alteration zones. Mineralogical data, geophysical log data and physical characteristics of the core suggest that the base of the Snake River Plain aquifer at the axial zone is located 960m below the surface, much deeper than previously suspected. Swelling smectite clay clogs pore spaces and reduces porosity and permeability to create a natural base to the aquifer. Increased temperatures favor the formation of smectite clay and other secondary minerals to the bottom of the hole. Below 960 m the core shows signs of alteration including color change, formation of clay, and filling of other secondary minerals in vesicles and fractured zones of the core. The smectite clay observed is Fe-rich clay that is authigenic in some places. Geothermal power generation may be feasible using a low temperature hot water geothermal system if thermal fluids can be attained near the bottom of the Kimama well. (113 pages)




This work made publicly available electronically on February 15, 2013.

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