Science & Technology

Heat Seekers: USU Geologists Get DOE Grant for Geothermal Exploration

USU geology professors John Shervais, left, and Jim Evans are recipients of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Geothermal Technology Office. The investigators will apply new technology to geothermal exploration in southern Idaho.

Utah State University geologists John Shervais, principal investigator, and Jim Evans, co-investigator, received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technology Office to adapt new geographic information systems software to geothermal systems exploration in southern Idaho through a technique known as Play Fairway Analysis.

Exprodat, an oil and gas GIS services, software and training supplier, provided the USU geologists with licenses for the software, which includes exploration analysis and data assistance extensions to Esri’s ArcGIS program.

Shervais says use of the technique, pioneered in the petroleum industry, provides greater technical rigor than traditional exploration approaches, and facilitates quantitative risk-based decisions even when data are sparse or incomplete.

“Using Exprodat’s software means we are able to easily and quickly take data from a huge range of sources to build a powerful ArcGIS database and perform geotechnical interpretation,” says Shervais, professor in USU’s Department of Geology.

Partners in the USU-led project include Boise State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Leidos, Inc. and Geoscience Technology and Engineering. The award includes $321,000 to USU and $177,000 to the Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC).

The project builds on Shervais and Evans’ previous efforts with ‘Project Hotspot,’ the Snake River Plain Scientific Drilling Project in southern Idaho. The USU-led geothermal exploration research project was funded by the DOE’s 2009 Recovery Act Innovative Exploration and Drilling Projects program.

Related links:

Contact: John Shervais, 435-797-1274,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

Shervais and Evans' current research builds on their previous efforts in leading Project Hotspot, the Snake River Plain Scientific Drilling Project in Idaho, funded by the DOE’s 2009 Recovery Act Innovative Exploration and Drilling Projects program.


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