New Geothermal Data System Opens Opportunities In Idaho and Nationwide

Monday, June 2 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – June 2, 2014 – The Idaho Geological Survey, based at the University of Idaho, is excited to be part of the National Geothermal Data System, which formally launched April 30 and was announced nationwide Friday.

This U.S. Department of Energy-led free online resource is populated with geothermal-related data from all 50 states. The NGDS has the potential to fundamentally change America’s energy portfolio by driving efficient exploration for clean, renewable energy from Earth’s interior. 

State geological surveys across the country significantly contributed to this effort by digitizing and making available online millions of data points related to geothermal activity.

In Idaho, the Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) compiled more than 7,000 records for the NGDS data project.  This effort and IGS’s analysis of the data has already paid off with the discovery of a previously unrecognized high-temperature geothermal resource in southeast Idaho, approximately 30 miles north of Soda Springs and southeast of Idaho Falls. 

The highest temperature wells, spanning an area of more than 200 square miles, encountered temperatures of 150 to 200 degrees Celsius (300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) at depths of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. Crustal heat flow in this area is two to three times the normal due to heat rising from a magma chamber more than 7 miles deep somewhere beneath China Hat, a rhyolite volcano located at the south end of the Blackfoot Reservoir.  

This geothermal prospect is part of a short list of potential economically drillable geothermal basins in the western U.S. that are the focus of a research proposal to the Department of Energy involving IGS, the Utah Geological Survey, and Utah’s Energy and Geoscience Institute to evaluate reservoir characteristics and development potential.

IGS is also organizing a research workshop, with seed money from Texas Christian University and support from the Center for Advanced Energy Studies and Idaho National Laboratory, to investigate the many geophysical, geochemical and volcanological questions revealed by the NGDS data and how this unique geothermal system could best be developed. For more information, visit

NGDS is powered by U.S. Geoscience Information Network (USGIN), a web-based, data integration framework in which users maintain their data in a distributed system. USGIN and NGDS strive to enable data interoperability, which allows data to be accessed and read in multiple formats significantly reducing the time it takes to retrieve and analyze data. The system infrastructure utilizes free and open source software whenever possible and hosts a suite of custom analytical and visualization tools.

Find out more about the National Geothermal Data System at and the US Geoscience Information Network at  NGDS and USGIN promote distributed data sharing and data interoperability through a series of open source and/or community adopted standards and protocols. Information on how to implement a similar system is available at  Additional information on the Association of American State Geologists is available at

About IGS
The Idaho Geological Survey is a public service and research agency at the University of Idaho. Idaho statute directs the survey to collect, interpret and disseminate geologic and mineral data for the state. Members of the Idaho Geological Survey staff acquire geologic information through field and laboratory investigations and through cooperative programs with other governmental and private agencies.


John Welhan
Research Geologist, Idaho Geological Survey
(208) 282-4254 

Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress St., Suite 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 209-4146

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit