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Journal Articles Geofluids Year : 2019

Locating Geothermal Resources: Insights from 3D Stress and Flow Models at the Upper Rhine Graben Scale


To be exploited, geothermal resources require heat, fluid, and permeability. These favourable geothermal conditions are strongly linked to the specific geodynamic context and the main physical transport processes, notably stresses and fluid circulations, which impact heat-driving processes. The physical conditions favouring the setup of geothermal resources can be searched for in predictive models, thus giving estimates on the so-called "favourable areas." Numerical models could allow an integrated evaluation of the physical processes with adapted time and space scales and considering 3D effects. Supported by geological, geophysical, and geochemical exploration methods, they constitute a useful tool to shed light on the dynamic context of the geothermal resource setup and may provide answers to the challenging task of geothermal exploration. The Upper Rhine Graben (URG) is a data-rich geothermal system where deep fluid circulations occurring in the regional fault network are the probable origin of local thermal anomalies. Here, we present a current overview of our team's efforts to integrate the impacts of the key physics as well as key factors controlling the geothermal anomalies in a fault-controlled geological setting in 3D physically consistent models at the regional scale. The study relies on the building of the first 3D numerical flow (using the discrete-continuum method) and mechanical models (using the distinct element method) at the URG scale. First, the key role of the regional fault network is taken into account using a discrete numerical approach. The geometry building is focused on the conceptualization of the 3D fault zone network based on structural interpretation and generic geological concepts and is consistent with the geological knowledge. This DFN (discrete fracture network) model is declined in two separate models (3D flow and stress) at the URG scale. Then, based on the main characteristics of the geothermal anomalies and the link with the physics considered, criteria are identified that enable the elaboration of indicators to use the results of the simulation and identify geothermally favourable areas. Then, considering the strong link between the stress, fluid flow, and geothermal resources, a cross-analysis of the results is realized to delineate favourable areas for geothermal resources. The results are compared with the existing thermal data at the URG scale and compared with knowledge gained through numerous studies. The good agreement between the delineated favourable areas and the locations of local thermal anomalies (especially the main one close to Soultz-sous-Forêts) demonstrates the key role of the regional fault network as well as stress and fluid flow on the setup of geothermal resources. Moreover, the very encouraging results underline the potential of the first 3D flow and 3D stress models at the URG scale to locate geothermal resources and offer new research opportunities.


Earth Sciences
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hal-02137569 , version 1 (23-05-2019)



Antoine Armandine Les Landes, Théophile Guillon, Mariane Peter-Borie, Arnold Blaisonneau, Xavier Rachez, et al.. Locating Geothermal Resources: Insights from 3D Stress and Flow Models at the Upper Rhine Graben Scale. Geofluids, 2019, 2019, pp.1-24. ⟨10.1155/2019/8494539⟩. ⟨hal-02137569⟩


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