Tracer tests in geothermal resource management
1 Iceland GeoSurvey (ÍSOR), Grensásvegur 9, IS-108 Reykjavík, Iceland
2 University of Iceland, Saemundargata 2, IS-101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Geothermal reinjection involves injecting energy-depleted fluid back into geothermal systems, providing an effective mode of waste-water disposal as well as supplementary fluid recharge. Cooling of production boreholes is one of the main disadvantages associated with reinjection, however. Tracer testing is an important tool for reinjection studies because tracer tests actually have a predictive power since tracer transport is orders of magnitude faster than cold-front advancement around reinjection boreholes. A simple and efficient method of tracer test interpretation, assuming specific flow channels connecting reinjection and production boreholes, is available. It simulates tracer return profiles and estimates properties of the flow channels, which are consequently used for predicting the production borehole cooling. Numerous examples are available worldwide on the successful application of tracer tests in geothermal management, many involving the application of this interpretation technique. Tracer tests are also used for general subsurface hydrological studies in geothermal systems and for flow rate measurements in two-phase geothermal pipelines. The tracers most commonly used in geothermal applications are fluorescent dyes, chemical substances and radioactive isotopes. New temperature-resistant tracers have also been introduced and high-tech tracers are being considered.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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