Recent Projects

Pyramid Lake Overview

UNR researchers have been investigating nearby Pyramid Lake for almost a decade, beginning with studies to constrain the slip rates on faults in the northern Walker Lane. Subsequent studies investigated the kinematics of faulting near Pyramid Lake and related this to the preferred locations for geothermal systems.

HyMap hyperspectral remote sensing data was used to map hydrothermal alteration and chemical precipitates related to geothermal activity. Field work verified the remote mineral mapping; samples were collected from springs and wells, and relevant geologic features were identified.

A gravity survey was conducted in 2006, with tighter spacing near Astor Pass, an area of specific interest. An aeromagnetic survey and 2 m temperature surveys were conducted at Astor Pass and southwestern Smoke Creek Desert in 2006. Geothermometry of the carbonate tufa towers at Astor Pass indicated the potential for a blind geothermal system at depth. Work was done to constrain the structural controls of the potential geothermal system.

A second 2 m temperature survey was conducted at Astor Pass in 2010 and extended to the base of the Terraced Hills. A survey was also completed at nearby Emerson Pass. Seismic data were used to map faults beneath and surrounding Pyramid Lake, with implications for local strain transfer through the region as well as geothermal systems.

Drilling in 2011 confirmed the presence of a blind geothermal system beneath Astor Pass. Pyramid Lake studies have more recently focused on the subsurface; a 3D geologic model of the Astor Pass geothermal system was produced using well data and 2D seismic reflection profiles. Reservoir models and characterization of reservoir geochemistry have also been recent foci. Detailed geologic and structural mapping of Emerson Pass is also underway. Recent research efforts have been in collaboration with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

Oblique view of Pyramid Lake
Oblique airphoto showing the region of interest for geothermal development at the northern end of Pyramid Lake.