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Abstract

Los Azufres (Michoacan) is the second geothermal field under development in Mexico. Though still at the exploration stage, five wellhead power units are generating a total installed 25,000 KW. The geothermal zone is one of the many thermally active areas of the Geothermal Province in the central part of the country, characterized by its numerous Tertiary to Quaternary volcanic centers and high heat flow, resulting in a large concentration of thermal shows.

The Los Azufres field, 200 km west-northwest of Mexico City in northeast Michoacan (Fig. 1), covers approximately 30 km2 of the Ciudad Hidalgo and Zinapecuaro municipalities. Hydrographically, it is centered at the drainage divide separating the closed Cuitzeo basin on the west from the Medio Balsas subbasin to the south and the Alto Lerma subbasin in the northwest, which are parts of the major hydrological pattern in the region.

The first geothermal energy evaluations in Mexico began in the 1950s at several localities. Los Azufres (formerly San Andres) had already been recommended as an objective for geothermal exploration, but it was not until early 1975 that the Federal Commission on Electricity (CFE) undertook the first systematic geological, geophysical, and geochemical surveys to verify the area's conditions and determine the best prospects. The first exploratory phase led to a recommendation of five deep-well locations in a 25 km2 area; these were drilled from 1976 to 1979, with encouraging results. The drilling program continued, and by 1982, five well-head turbogenerators, each with 50,000 KW capacity, had been installed. Development of

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