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Drilling at the Summit of Kilauea Volcano

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Title: Drilling at the Summit of Kilauea Volcano
Authors: Keller, George V.
LC Subject Headings: Volcanoes--Hawaii
Kilauea Volcano (Hawaii)
Issue Date: 1974
Publisher: Golden, CO: Colorado School of Mines
Citation: Keller GV. 1974. Drilling at the summit of Kilauea Volcano. Golden (CO): Colorado School of Mines.
Abstract: A borehole has been drilled to a depth of 1262 m beneath the summit of Kilauea Volcano on the island of Hawaii. The purposes were twofold: to obtain engineering information related to the possible occurrence of geothermal energy in a basaltic volcano, and to obtain scientific information about the internal nature and workings of Kilauea Volcano. Because the location of the borehole is within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the drilling could not have as its objective the production of steam. Accordingly, the drilling program was carried out in a manner intended to minimize the chance of a steam eruption, and to maximize the chances of gathering scientific information. The fact that the borehole was drilled without encountering any significant difficulties is in itself a measure of success. It was found that the interior of the volcano was not nearly as inhospitable an environment as some people anticipated. In fact, the only difficulties met in drilling were related to the remoteness of the location from normal sources of supply. Although there are numerous occurrences of very hot surface rocks close around the drillsite, the borehole penetrated only cool rocks until the water table was entered, at a depth of 490 meters. From this level to nearly sea level, at a depth of 1102 meters, a complicated temperature profile was observed, with temperatures varying between 60°C and 90°C. The groundwater in this zone appears to have a salinity roughly equal to that of sea water. It is thought that a convection system exists over this interval. At greater depths, the permeability of the rock is markedly reduced, though the porosity and water content remain high, in the range from 20 to 25 percent. The bottom-hole temperature is 137°C, and the gradient over the last hundred meters of hole is about 400°C per kilometer. If the hole were located in an area where production of geothermal energy could be undertaken, it is possible that production of commercial-quality steam could be obtained by drilling to depths 200 to 300 meters below the present depth. The major question that would have to be answered if steam production were sought would be whether or not permeability exists or could be induced in rocks at these depths.
Sponsor: Prepared for National Science Foundation.
Pages/Duration: 45 p.
Appears in Collections:The Geothermal Collection

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