Warming Up to Geothermal’s Potential Via Google Earth

Work a bit slow today? And did you ever wonder just how hot it is miles beneath your cubicle? Luckily, the good folks at Google have you covered on both fronts.

Welcome to geothermal data heaven. Researchers at SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory have built a vast database detailing the geothermal potential way, way below the earth’s surface, and Google has taken that information and laid it atop its interactive Google Earth platform. 

Spend a little time with it — or a lot — and you’ll end up with all sorts of nuggets that will help you better understand Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and its immense potential in the United States. The experience will certainly give you a better sense of where the hot spots are. You probably didn’t need Google Earth to tell you that Firehole Lake in Wyoming was a rather good source of geothermal energy. But did you know that places like Louisiana and Mississippi also pack their fair share of heat? Or that West Virginia’s geothermal resource is equivalent to the state’s existing king of power — coal?

The goal of the 35,000 data sites is to help users deepen their knowledge of geothermal potential in areas not often associated with the energy resource. As technologies improve, methods such as EGS may one day tap into this often undiscovered source of clean energy.

In the meantime, you have some exploring to do. First, download the latest version of Google Earth and then download and open the file.

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Steve Leone has been a journalist for more than 15 years and has worked for news organizations in Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia and California.

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