Illustrated plane pulling a banner that reads "GEOFLIGHT"

The GeoFlight initiative seeks to capture surface and near-surface geologic data in the Salton Sea region to identify new geothermal energy prospects and areas of highest potential for mineral recovery, especially lithium.  It is a joint effort between the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) and the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

GeoFlight: Salton Trough

As part of the GeoFlight: Salton Trough initiative, GTO and the USGS are collecting data on hidden geothermal systems in California’s agriculturally rich Imperial Valley—the centerpiece of which is the geothermally active Salton Sea area.

  • The USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative is surveying the Salton Trough area using specially equipped, low-flying aircraft.
  • USGS tools actively capture airborne magnetic and radiometric data, identifying unique surface and near-surface characteristics to create more robust exploration tools.
    • Understanding these characteristics is essential to responsible and economic geothermal exploration and development.
  • The USGS, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and Natural Resources Conservation Service, is also conducting a high-altitude airborne lidar survey over the Salton Sea area. The USGS 3D Elevation Program will provide publicly available, high-quality elevation data for the study area.

GeoFlight builds on the 2020 Geophysical Data Acquisition in Western Nevada (GeoDAWN) project, co-sponsored by GTO and the USGS, with data currently under analysis.

New geophysical data gathered in the Salton Trough will help identify potential geothermal resources, as well as monitor earthquake and flood hazards, groundwater, conservation areas, and mineral deposits, including lithium.

  • Lithium is a valuable resource crucial to domestic high-tech manufacturing, especially for electric vehicle and grid storage batteries and components.
    • As a ‘critical mineral,’ lithium has been identified as essential to the economic and national security of the United States.
The Many Uses of Geosciences Data

GeoFlight: Salton Trough and initiatives like it will provide the data support necessary for regional and local communities to make informed decisions about the direction of future energy and mineral resource plans. 

GeoFlight is part of GTO’s Data, Modeling, and Analysis (DMA) program. Learn more about other DMA efforts and GTO Priorities.