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Overview & Vision

Precise knowledge of reliable in-situ thermal rock properties and derived thermal parameters (e.g. heat-flow density) is indispensable for understanding the Earth’s subsurface thermal structure and heat budget. The new laboratory device will provide new insight in the in-situ properties of porous rocks at variable depth, which is important for pure academic research but also for applied science based on geoscientific knowledge.

Key facts
  • Determining the impact of in-situ p/T conditions on thermal rock properties
  • Development of new and innovative laboratory measurement device
  • Mathematical formulation of the impact of p/T on thermal rock

This multidisciplinary project is paramount for three independent research fields: (1) lithosphere dynamics, (2) sedimentary-basin processes, and (3) resource exploration. For example, precise knowledge of reliable in-situ thermal rock properties (TC for steady-state and TD for transient processes) is indispensable for the use of numerical tools to develop subsurface temperature models. Those models are, beside the rare direct temperature measurements in boreholes, the standard method to examine the Earth’s subsurface thermal structure and heat budget, which mainly drive geodynamic processes such as mantle convection and plate tectonics. Consequently, determinations of the temperature conditions in the Earth are prerequisites for the understanding of Earth’s internal processes and to manage industrial applications in the geological subsurface. Since uncertainties in modelled subsurface temperature generally scale with uncertainty in rock thermal properties, improved knowledge on the in-situ value is fundamental. Earth’s internal processes have also practical implications for the society. The Earth heat may be extracted and applied for heating purposes or electricity generation and the subsurface storage of heat is applied to compensate for different seasonal energy demands. Both are techniques that can help to secure and diversify Europe’s energy supply. Beyond the direct use of the Earth’s heat, knowledge of the subsurface thermal field is of strategic importance for any industrial application of the geological subsurface in Europe, in particular for the storage of resources (e.g. compressed gas) and waste (e.g. nuclear waste).

More information: scientific background | structure & work packages | progress and results | team |