Volcano Experiment A Success
By Brandon Smith
A Seattle-based energy company is now finished creating miniature earthquakes in Central Oregon.
AltaRock Energy of Seattle wanted to see if they could expand an exploratory geothermal well, dug by another company, into a geothermal reservoir. Executives said they did just that.
Starting in October, AltaRock pumped cold water into the 10,600-foot well which is near Newberry Crater. When the cold water hit the hot rock, deep in the well, it created fractures which would serve as a reservoir. The Bend Bulletin says the firm also pumped in bits of biodegradable plastic, to clog the newly-created cracks. This allows the cold water to create even more fractures. AltaRock finished that work on December 7.
All this fracturing created tiny earthquakes in the region. Scientists registered 26 seismic events of magnitude 1 or greater since October.
Residents had expressed concerns over the possibility of larger earthquakes and over the use of plastics and chemicals in the water.
The US Geological Survey did monitor the project and there is a final public meeting about the experiment to be held at the end of January.