Drilling surprise opens door to magma-powered electricity

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Gretar Ívarsson Can enormous heat deep in the Earth be harnessed to provide energy for us on the surface? A promising report from a geothermal borehole project that accidentally struck magma—the same fiery, molten rock that spews from volcanoes—suggests it could. The Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, IDDP , has been drilling shafts up to 5km deep in an attempt to harness the heat in the volcanic bedrock far below the surface of Iceland. But in 2009 a borehole at Krafla, Northeast Iceland, reached only 2,100m deep before unexpectedly striking a pocket of magma. The molten rock was intruding into the Earth’s upper crust from below at searing temperatures of 900 to 1000 degrees Celsius. This borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells drilled by the IDDP in Iceland looking for usable geothermal resources. A special report in this month’s Geothermics journal details the engineering feats and scientific results that came from the attempt to harness the incredible geothermal heat. (The only previous case like this was in Hawaii in 2007, but that well was sealed in concrete.) Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Drilling surprise opens door to magma-powered electricity

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