Abstract

A large number of bottom-hole temperature (BHT) data from Alberta (55 246 BHT from 28 260 wells) have been used to construct Paleozoic and Precambrian surface-temperature maps. A northward increase of average heat flow in Alberta results in higher subsurface temperatures at the Precambrian basement and at the top of the Paleozoic toward the north and northeast than at the same depths in the south and southeast. However, the temperature distribution at these surfaces is more depth dependent than gradient dependent, and so higher temperature values occur in the western part of the basin. As a result, good geothermal energy potential exists throughout the western half of the province, especially for regions west of the Calgary – Swan Hills – Grande Prairie – Rainbow Lake line. Through the central part of the basin, zones occur where the isotherms and the isopach lines of the Phanerozoic are parallel. These zones probably represent regions where little disturbance to heat transport by vertical water motion occurs. It is suggested that zones in the central part of the basin where such parallelism does not occur may represent areas where conductive transport of heat is perturbed by local, nonlateral fluid flow or zones with nonuniform heat contribution from the crystalline crust or upper mantle. The effect of hydrodynamics in the deeper sediments of the Paleozoic that lie below the BHT observations may also contribute to such zones.

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