MSc Thesis: 3D Modelling of Faulting and Intrusion of the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano, Colombia

Chelsea Arlette Magpantay Cervantes successfully defends her master's thesis


REYKJAVIK, July 9 – After conducting her studies, Chelsea Arlette Magpantay Cervantes successfully defended her thesis where she used ArcGIS and Leapfrog to create 3D subsurface models that integrated geoscientific data about the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano. Chelsea's work was supervised by Juliet Newson, from Reykjavik University, and Daniela Blessent from the University of Medellin.


The study area of the Nevado del Ruiz is in the Andes mountain range in the northern part of Colombia. The area is 1026 km2 and lies atop most of the important fault systems and thermal manifestations of the area. Before Chelsea's work there had been no publicly available 3D models of the area.

Geothermal energy in this area is considered high-risk because the resource potential is unknown. Despite the risk, current operations have proven the geothermal reserve can fulfill baseload energy demands. Which begs the question: How long can geothermal energy continue to provide much-needed electricity? Test drilling is often used to quantify the potential of a geothermal reserve. This method is very costly and may yield no results. Instead of using traditional methods, Chelsea instead investigated further by using publicly available geological, geochemical, and geophysical data to create a 3D subsurface visualization. She built a geological model that served as the base for more in-depth permeability and conceptual models. The 3D model Chelsea built made it possible to model the current hypotheses about what is going on underground.

Chelsea acknowledges that the study may be limited due to the exclusive use of publicly available data. But she also mentions that by constructing this model she has been able to identify knowledge gaps and steer future studies on the path they should be taking. 

To read more about subterraneous 3D modeling for geothermal exploration click here.

Congratulations Chelsea on an excellent thesis!


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