Research Projects and Publications

3D Modelling of faulting and intrusion of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia

Geothermal Engineering and Exploration

Author: Chelsea Arlette Magpantay Cervantes
Year: 2019
Supervisors: Daniela Blessent, Juliet Newson


The Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano is located in the Northern Andes Mountain Range of Colombia. The area has been evaluated for its geothermal potential for the past decade. Geothermal energy, once implemented, has been proven to be a stable source of baseload energy. However, geothermal projects are often classified as high-risk since geothermal prospects maintain uncertainties in regard to subsurface characterization and quantification of resource potential. Test drilling is a direct method to mitigate these uncertainties and gain robust information about a geothermal prospect, however drilling requires high upfront capital cost with no guarantee of favorable outcomes. A useful, emerging tool in efforts to decrease geothermal project risk prior to drilling and enhance confidence in decision-making is 3D modelling. Subsurface 3D modelling provides a platform for the integration of geoscientific data collected during the exploration phase of a geothermal project into a dynamic visualization to assess the geothermal system. This includes georeferenced data obtained from remote sensing, geological, geophysical and geochemical surveys. The resulting model becomes accessible for evaluation from different industry domains, facilitating understanding of the resource. Leapfrog Geothermal is a modelling software created by Seequent that provides these capabilities. The purpose of this work is to create the best possible 3D subsurface visualization for the Nevado del Ruiz geothermal prospect using Leapfrog Geothermal. A variety of models were created for the Nevado del Ruiz and surrounding area and are built on publicly available geoscientific data of the denoted area of study. The 3D geological model of the Nevado del Ruiz was used as the base model in which a permeability and conceptual model were extracted. This enabled the visualization of multiple working hypotheses for the Nevado del Ruiz geothermal system. The resulting models show the stage of surface exploration of the Nevado del Ruiz and indicate that facets of the geothermal system are not yet fully understood. The results suggest that further studies and data are required to enhance the usefulness of the model and for the overall progression of the project.

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