A preliminary study on the feedback of heat transfer on groundwater flow in a Karst geothermal field

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Yanlong Kong1,2, Zhonghe Pang2, Shengbiao Hu2, Jumei Pang2, Haibing Shao1 and Olaf Kolditz3, (1)Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany, (2)Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, (3)Helmholtz Center UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
In deep sedimentary basins, groundwater movement can significantly alter the heat flow pattern. At the same time, heat flux induced temperature change can reversely determine the flow regime through density dependent convection process. In Karst aquifers, the heterogeneity in the carbonate rocks makes the identification of this feedback much more complex. In this work, a preliminary study has been made on this feedback in Xiongxian geothermal field.

The Karst aquifer in our site has an average thickness of about 1000 m, and is overlaid by over 400 m of quaternary clay, and subsequently 600 m of Neogene sandstone. Geothermal energy has been exploited in the site for space heating. During the heating period from Nov 15th to Mar 15th every year, hot water was extracted from the aquifer and re-injected after the heat extraction. A detailed temperature logging has been carried out in the field, both before and after the heating period, with the consideration that temperature distribution will be affected by the re-injection of cold water.

The vertical distribution of temperature in the cap rock shows a constant positive gradient over depth. The heat flux at different locations has been calculated respectively. It is found to decline from southwest to northeast, with the highest value of 113.9 mW/m2 to the lowest of 80.6 mW/m2. This pattern can be well explained by the tectonic features. More interestingly, two inflection points appear on the temperature profile of the Karst layer, revealing strong influence from the cold re-injection water. Also, a 3℃ temperature difference was observed in the June and October measurement, which is related to the reservoir recovery.

Currently, a 3D numerical model is being constructed, using the open-source software OpenGeoSys. Heat transport process is coupled with density dependent flow in a monolithic approach, to simulate both heat conduction and groundwater convection. This model will help to quantify the feedback from heat transfer on the groundwater circulation, which will be further applied to geological processes associated with orogenesis, ore mineralization and oil/heat accumulation.