Abstract

The postulate that geothermal energy might be recoverable from strata laterally equivalent to the Fell Sandstone Formation (Carboniferous: Mississippian) beneath Newcastle upon Tyne has been examined by the drilling and testing of the 1821 m deep Newcastle Science Central Deep Geothermal Borehole. This proved 376.5 m of Fell Sandstone Formation below 1400 m, much of which resembled braided river deposits found at outcrop, although some lower portions were reddened and yielded grains of aeolian affinity. Downhole logging after attainment of thermal equilibrium proved a temperature of 73°C at 1740 m, and allowed estimation of heat flow at about 88 mW m−2. This relatively high value probably reflects deep convective transfer of heat over a distance of >8 km from the North Pennine Batholith, along the Ninety Fathom Fault. The Fell Sandstone traversed by the borehole proved to be of low hydraulic conductivity (c. 7 × 10−5 m d−1). The water that entered the well was highly saline, with a Na–(Ca)–Cl signature similar to other warm waters encountered in the region. It remains for future directional drilling to establish whether sufficient natural fracture permeability can be encountered, or wells stimulated, to support commercial heat production.

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