Spatial Analysis of Geothermal Resource Potential in New York and Pennsylvania: A Stratified Kriging Approach

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jared David Smith, Calvin A Whealton and Jery R Stedinger, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
Resource assessments for low-grade geothermal applications employ available well temperature measurements to determine if the resource potential is sufficient for supporting district heating opportunities. This study used a compilation of bottomhole temperature (BHT) data from recent unconventional shale oil and gas wells, along with legacy oil, gas, and storage wells, in Pennsylvania (PA) and New York (NY). Our study’s goal was to predict the geothermal resource potential and associated uncertainty for the NY-PA region using kriging interpolation. The dataset was scanned for outliers, and some observations were removed. Because these wells were drilled for reasons other than geothermal resource assessment, their spatial density varied widely. An exploratory spatial statistical analysis revealed differences in the spatial structure of the geothermal gradient data (the kriging semi-variogram and its nugget variance, shape, sill, and the degree of anisotropy). As a result, a stratified kriging procedure was adopted to better capture the statistical structure of the data, to generate an interpolated surface, and to quantify the uncertainty of the computed surface. The area was stratified reflecting different physiographic provinces in NY and PA that have geologic properties likely related to variations in the value of the geothermal gradient. The kriging prediction and the variance-of-prediction were determined for each province by the generation of a semi-variogram using only the wells that were located within that province. A leave-one-out cross validation (LOOCV) was conducted as a diagnostic tool. The results of stratified kriging were compared to kriging using the whole region to determine the impact of stratification. The two approaches provided similar predictions of the geothermal gradient. However, the variance-of-prediction was different. The stratified approach is recommended because it gave a more appropriate site-specific characterization of uncertainty based upon a more realistic description of the statistical structure of the data given the geologic characteristics of each province.