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Under the leadership of Lawrence Berkeley and Sandia National Laboratories, researchers are working to validate and verify models of enhanced geothermal reservoir behavior within the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota in advance of full-scale site research at the FORGE laboratory in Milford, Utah. Early results are promising as the Collab team continues rigorous onsite monitoring and testing. 

TEXT VERSION

Collab logo shown, reading “A path to FORGE.”

In order to prepare for the full-scale EGS laboratory, FORGE, we need to develop an intermediate-scale testbed. 

Aerial view of landscape around the SURF laboratory.

We chose SURF, the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, to test access, geologic conditions, and previous experience within the site.

Underground animation showing passageways within the lab.

The work site is near Governor’s Corner at the 4,850-foot level of the mine, where we initially drilled an injection and production doublet. 

Researchers and equipment within the mine.

The doublet was planned for an approximately 30 meter diameter fracture system. 

Underground animation showing the drilling area.

After completing the injection and production wells, an additional six monitoring wells were cored and characterized within the vicinity of the project area. 

Researchers and equipment within the mine.

The characterization activities are focused on gaining a better understanding of the subsurface conditions at the site, including analyzing the cores as well as collecting detailed geophysical models.

Underground animation showing data types gathered at the drilling area.

The extensive site characterization and detailed monitoring system allow us to collect all data necessary to both validate and verify numerical models of EGS behavior. 

Animation showing drilling area with fracture zone heat map, fading to X/Y chart showing injection well dynamics.

Pretest models that predicted the fracturing behavior and dynamics, using a variety of numerical methods, are currently being tested against the first foray of experimental results at the site. Preliminary results are encouraging …

Animation showing drilling area with highlighted test observation areas.

… giving us confidence as we move forward to full-scale field testing at the FORGE laboratory. 

Workers onsite holding a handwritten sign that reads “The geothermal good life!”

This research is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office. 

Array of logos representing university, lab, and industry partners: Stanford, Wisconsin, OU, Mines, South Dakota School of M&T, Livermore, PNNL, Berkeley Lab, Idaho National Lab, Los Alamos, Sandia, NREL, Oak Ridge, SURF, and McClure Geomechanics.