Geophysical Assessment of the Mount Princeton Geothermal Area, Colorado

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Conference Proceeding

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The upper Arkansas basin has some of the greatest potential for geothermal development in Colorado. Over several summers, students conducted an investigation using seismic, gravity, and magnetics in order to help identify the large structures and basin fill associated with the Rio Grande Rift. Adjacent to Mount Princeton Hot Springs, near surface geophysics was conducted to help understand the faulting and fractures that act as a conduit for hydrothermal flow. The methods used included high frequency 3D seismic, magnetics, gravity, D.C. resistivity, and self potential. Throughout the Mount Princeton area, passive seismic, vertical seismic profiling, and well logging were also used to better understand the geology and activity of the region. The results indicate for the area northwest of the hot springs, a 40 to 50 m thick unconsolidated layer overlying the fractured granitic basement. The DC profile shows a deep geothermal anomaly of low resistivity which correlates with a positive SP anomaly in the same region. In the Chalk Creek valley, a shear zone extends from the north east to the south west, just south of the Chalk Cliffs. There appears to be an upward migration of the water through this shear zone which then flows along the porous sediments towards the south in this area. The deep seismic data collected in the center of the basin suggests that the depth to the basement is approximately 2000m. Also identified on the deep seismic are two major faults on the west end and two minors at the east end of the cross-section. An alteration zone is identified between the faults and a possible Precambrian northeast trending shear zone. The potential for developing an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) near the center of the valley is high. Our geophysical results indicate a deep basin fill near the center of the basin providing high temperatures. The range front (Sawatch) fault is observed to penetrate under the center of the basin and is an attractive target for natural fractures.

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