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Geothermal energy, or heat from the earth, is an excellent resource.

It is
sustainable, works 24/7, and has a minimal carbon footprint. One should be clear
when discussing geothermal energy about which type is being discussed: direct use,
electrical generation, heat pumps, or enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).
The interior of the Earth is hot. Volcanoes are a dramatic reminder that there is heat
in the Earth. Miners who work in deep mines know that the deeper the level, the
higher the temperatures. Oil-well drillers also know that the drill pipes are hot when
they are pulled from a deep well and the oil is hot as it rises to the surface. What is
the source of this heat?

An early theory was that all of this heat was primordial, or remained from the
formation of the Earth. However, with the discovery of radioactivity an additional
source of heat was found. Unstable isotopes of uranium (235, 238U), thorium
(232Th), and potassium (40K) exist in sufficient quantities in most rocks to supply a
significant fraction of the heat that is lost from the modern Earth. The total, presentday rate of heat loss from the Earth is estimated to be 46 TW (terawatts or million
billion watts), or the equivalent of approximately 69,000 average-sized US coal-fired
power plants (average power generation capacity 667 MW).
Plate Tectonics
The Earth is simmering in geologic time. These heat sources are not sufficiently
concentrated enough to form a volcano or a geothermal resource directly, but are
like a burner on low on a range top. Given enough time, they can bring soup to a
simmer. The result is movement of the tectonic plates, a solid crust on the
simmering pot of the Earth, broken into pieces that move relative to each other
along their boundaries. Most geologic interactions, volcanoes, earthquakes,
mountain building, occur close to these boundaries, although there are some
important exceptions. Isolated volcanic centers, such as Yellowstone and the
Hawaiian Islands pierce the plates far from their edges, sedimentary basins
continue to develop long after they have an association with a plate boundary.

Plate tectonics is an important process for geothermal resources in a number of


ways. Most volcanoes are associated with plate boundaries and high-temperature
geothermal resources are usually found close to active volcanoes. Mountain belts
are generally formed in association with plate tectonics. Sometimes the association
is obvious, such as the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asian to form the
Himalaya. Sometimes the association is less clear such as the origin of the current
elevation of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. However, topographic variations and
young faults often allow water to circulate deep in the earth (a few km or a couple
of miles) and rise to the surface as a hot spring/thermal resource. Finally, mineral
resources can become concentrated in association with melting and recycling of the
crust during the plate tectonic cycle. The minerals include those that contain the
heat-producing isotopes and some rocks in the continental crust, particularly

granitic rocks, contain significantly more heat production than other rocks. These
high heat production rocks can produce local warm spots in the crust.

Geothermal Gradient

The rate of increase in temperature with depth in the crust is called the geothermal
gradient (see Colorado Geothermal Gradient Map). In most areas the geothermal
gradient is in the range of 15 to 30C/km (0.8 to 1.6F per 100 feet). The average
temperature in Denver is about 10C (50F), so with these gradients you would
need to go down between 2.8 and 5.7 km (between about 5,600 and 11,150 feet) to
reach a temperature of 95C (202F), the average temperature at which water boils
at the elevation of Denver. [The boiling temperature of water decreases by about
1.1C (2F) for every 300 meters (1,000 feet) increase in elevation above sea level.]
These depths are relatively deep to drill for such modest temperatures.

In some areas geothermal gradients are significantly higher than others. These
areas are usually associated with plate boundaries, but can also be associated with
high concentrations of heat producing radiogenic isotopes in the upper crust, thick
sections of sedimentary rocks that conduct heat poorly, or hot spots, areas of midplate volcanism.

Water flow can increase the geothermal gradient at shallow depths: upward flow
increases the gradient, downward flow decreases the gradient. Water flow may raise
the gradient in addition to other mechanisms that increase the gradient. Where
these increases in gradient occur are the locations of geothermal resources. Young
volcanic activity is commonly associated with geothermal resources, but is not a
requirement.

Energia geotermala, sau caldura emanate de Pamant, este o resursa excelenta. Este
sustenabila, este generata in permanenta de catre Pamant si are o amprenta de
carbon foarte redusa. Cand discutam despre energie geotermala trebuie sa fim
specifici despre utilizarea ei, aceasta poate fi utilizata pentru: uz direct, generare de
electricitate, pompe de caldura sau Sisteme geotermale imbunatatite.

Interiorul Planetei are o temperatura ridicata. Vulcanii sunt un bun exemplu pentru
cat de mare este temperatura cu adevarat la interiorul Pamantului. Mineri care
lucreaza la adancime stiu ca Pamantul devine din ce in ce mai cald cu cat
avanseaza mai mult in crusta Pamantului. Cei care exploateaza titei au observat ca
in momentul in care scot tevile cu care foreaza la adancime acestea sunt fierbinti si
de asemenea titeiul care este scos la suprafata este cald. Care ar putea sa fie sursa
pentru aceasta caldura?
La inceput se credea ca sursa pentru aceasta caldura este un reziduu ramas de la
formarea planetei. O data cu descoperirea radioactivitatii s-a mai adaugat o sursa
pentru caldura din interiorul Pamantului. Izotopi instabili de uraniu (235, 238 U),
toriu (232 Th), si potasiu (40 K) sunt in crusta Pamantului din abundenta in marea
majoritate a rocilor pentru a furniza o cantitate de caldura considerabila. In present,
cantitatea totala de caldura pe care o emana/pierde Pamantul este 46 TW (terawatt)
sau echivalentul a 69000 de centrale pe carbune cu o putere de 667 MW.

Placile tectonice
De asemenea, un alt factor care contribuie foarte mult la caldura din interiorul
Pamantului sunt placile tectonica. In termini geologici, se poate face comparative ca