Abstract

Recent heat flow studies indicate that the Appalachian Basin in West Virginia may represent an important location for high heat flow and future geothermal energy development. Currently, however, only limited one-dimensional (1-D) heat flow studies exist in this region, making it difficult to assess the potential for geothermal development. Here, we develop the first high resolution 2-D basin model for a portion of West Virginia. The model uses 2-D finite difference heat conduction, basin cross sections, equilibrium temperature, and oil and gas bottom-hole temperature data to quantify heat flow at the surface and at the base of the sedimentary basin. The temperature data show elevated temperature gradients in the eastern portion of the basin. A 2-D advection-diffusion model, created using available lithologic and structural data, was designed to test whether variations in crustal properties, structure, erosion, or fluid advection can account for the observed temperatures in the basin. Thermal properties were populated using measured values as well as published averages. A linear heat flow vs. heat production relationship was used to determine heat flow at the base of the model. The model constrains the heat flow at the base of the sedimentary basin to 49–55 mW/m2. Analysis of modeling results suggests that heat flow at the base of the sedimentary basin is nearly uniform. Variations in basin temperatures are most likely due to variations in sediment thermal properties, complex structures, and/or localized fluid advection.

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