Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


GOODHUE, Nathaniel1, KOTEAS, G. Christopher2, RHODES, J. Michael1 and MABEE, Stephen B.2, (1)Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, 611 North Pleasant Street, 233 Morrill Science Center, Amherst, MA 01003, (2)Office of the Massachusetts State Geologist, University of Massachusetts, 611 North Pleasant Street, 233 Morrill Science Center, Amherst, MA 01003,

Devonian-aged plutonic rocks that are interpreted to be part of the Fall River pluton, along the southern edge of the Narragansett Basin, appear to have potential as a source of deep geothermal energy. The Narragansett Basin covers a ~1500 Km2 area in southern Massachusetts and is dominated by complexly deformed and metamorphosed, Pennsylvanian-aged, fluvial and alluvial deposits. A northeast-striking series of brittle faults and discrete shear zones define the southern margin of the basin. Preliminary modeling of igneous and gneissic fabrics from outcrops along the southern edge of the basin show that the granite dips predominantly north, northeast. This pattern suggests that granitoids along the southern edge of the basin continue beneath the Narragansett Basin and correlate with granitoids exposed to the north. Regional joint sets in the Fall River pluton can be grouped into three dominant clusters at 350°, 90°, and 250° based upon 86 field measurements. Low-angle sheeting joints are also common and suggest interconnected fracture networks at depth. Preliminary geochemistry from the Fall River pluton suggests that feldspars and accessory minerals contain the appropriate concentrations of heat producing elements, primarily U, Th, and K, to be a reasonable geothermal resource. K2O values range from 2.4 to 5.0 weight percent. U and Th values (in ppm) range from 0.9 to 6.2 and 2.9 to 30.1 respectively. Assuming a relatively consistent composition at depth, a density of 2.6 kg/m3, and a thermal conductivity of 2.9 W/m°C, initial temperature modeling suggests average temperatures of 81°C at depths of 5 kilometers and 93°C at depths of 6 kilometers. Temperature estimates increase to ~150°C and ~170°C respectively when a two kilometer thick sediment package is modeled overlying the granitoids. The goal of current and future work is to improve assumptions about compositional uniformity as well as the regional position of granitoids at depth. At the conclusion of this work we hope to develop a protocol for studying geothermal potential of buried granitoids in New England in the absence of reliable drill-hole data. Preliminary estimates from this project suggest that basins underlain by granitoids of compositions similar to that of the Fall River pluton have reasonable potential as a deep geothermal resource.