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The Cornubian geothermal province: heat production and flow in SW England: estimates from boreholes and airborne gamma-ray measurements

Beamish, David; Busby, Jon. 2016 The Cornubian geothermal province: heat production and flow in SW England: estimates from boreholes and airborne gamma-ray measurements. Geothermal Energy, 4 (4). 25, pp. 10.1186/s40517-016-0046-8

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Abstract/Summary

The Cornubian granite batholith provides one of the main high heat production and flow provinces within the UK. An extensive programme of borehole measurements was undertaken in the 1980’s to characterise the geothermal resource. Here we revisit the published data on heat flow and heat production from 34 boreholes and revise the published heat flow values in accord with modern palaeoclimate knowledge. This leads to a more rigorous (and increased) set of estimated temperatures at depth across the granite outcrops. Predicted temperatures at a depth of 5 km, largely exceed 200 °C and are 6-11% higher than previously estimated values. We also reconsider the borehole heat production values in conjunction with new heat generation information from a recent regional scale airborne geophysical survey. The radiometric (gamma-ray) data provide detailed (~70 m along-line) ground concentration estimates of the heat-producing radioelements. These are then combined to estimate heat production in the near-surface. The airborne estimates are subject to attenuation by the soil profile. Here we demonstrate and then adopt an assumption that the observations of the soil-bedrock medium undergo a flux attenuation by a factor of about 2 compared to the response of the underlying material. The revised estimates are then correlated with their equivalent deeper borehole estimates. Linear regression is then used to correct the shallow airborne estimates to values that are consistent with the deeper borehole determinations. The procedure provides a detailed and extensive mapping of heat production at both on- and off-granite locations across SW England. The Dartmoor and Land’s End granite offer the greatest spatial geothermal potential in terms of their intrinsic radionuclide concentrations and associated heat production. District-scale heat production is studied using the airborne data acquired uniformly across conurbations. The analysis identifies the towns of Camborne, Penzance, St Austell, Redruth and St Ives as having high values (> 4 μW.m-3) within their urban perimeters.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1186/s40517-016-0046-8
Additional Keywords: Cornubian geothermal province, UK. Granite batholith. Heat production. Heat flow. Boreholes. Airborne gamma-ray data.
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 07 Apr 2016 13:32 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/513376

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