Inverse geothermal modelling applied to Danish sedimentary basins

Søren E. Poulsen, Niels Balling, Thue S. Bording, Anders Mathiesen, Søren B. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper presents a numerical procedure for predicting subsurface temperatures and heatflow distribution in 3-D using inverse calibration methodology. The procedure is based on a modified version of the groundwater code MODFLOW by taking advantage of the mathematical similarity between confined groundwater flow (Darcy's law) and heat conduction (Fourier's law). Thermal conductivity, heat production and exponential porosity-depth relations are specified separately for the individual geological units of the model domain. The steady-state temperature model includes a model-based transient correction for the long-term palaeoclimatic thermal disturbance of the subsurface temperature regime. Variable model parameters are estimated by inversion of measured borehole temperatures with uncertainties reflecting their quality. The procedure facilitates uncertainty estimation for temperature predictions. The modelling procedure is applied to Danish onshore areas containing deep sedimentary basins. A 3-D voxel-based model, with 14 lithological units from surface to 5000 m depth, was built from digital geological maps derived from combined analyses of reflection seismic lines and borehole information. Matrix thermal conductivity of model lithologies was estimated by inversion of all available deep borehole temperature data and applied together with prescribed background heat flow to derive the 3-D subsurface temperature distribution. Modelled temperatures are found to agree very well with observations. The numerical model was utilized for predicting and contouring temperatures at 2000 and 3000 m depths and for two main geothermal reservoir units, the Gassum (Lower Jurassic-Upper Triassic) and Bunter/Skagerrak (Triassic) reservoirs, both currently utilized for geothermal energy production. Temperature gradients to depths of 2000-3000 m are generally around 25-30 °C km -1, locally up to about 35 °C km -1. Large regions have geothermal reservoirs with characteristic temperatures ranging from ca. 40-50 °C, at 1000-1500 m depth, to ca. 80-110 °C, at 2500- 3500 m, however, at the deeper parts, most likely, with too low permeability for non-stimulated production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-206
Number of pages19
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume211
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Keywords

  • Europe
  • Heat flow
  • Inverse theory
  • Non-linear differential equations
  • Numerical solutions

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources

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