Scientists researching earthquakes tap possible geothermal energy source

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Scientists researching earthquakes tap possible geothermal energy source

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A University of Alberta geophysics professor and graduate student were among a group of researchers studying earthquakes in New Zealand in 2014 when they made a rare discovery.

While trying to access the Alpine Fault along New Zealand’s west coast, the research team discovered very hot water at a relatively shallow depth.

The water, which was hot enough to boil, was found 630 metres below the surface. Water that hot is typically found at depths of at least 3,000 metres.

“It’s much hotter than anticipated along this fault,” said geophysics professor Doug Schmitt, explaining the water’s temperature increased up to 200 degrees celsius per one kilometre of depth.

“Normally you only see that near volcanoes,” Schmitt said. “That shocked a lot of us.”

The research team, led by New Zealand geoscientists, published a paper in Nature last week, detailing the geothermal discovery.

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