In this paper, we present an analysis using unsupervised machine learning (ML) to identify the key geologic factors that contribute to the geothermal production in Brady geothermal field. Brady is a hydrothermal system in northwestern Nevada that supports both electricity production and direct use of hydrothermal fluids. Transmissive fluid-flow pathways are relatively rare in the subsurface, but are critical components of hydrothermal systems like Brady and many other types of fluid-flow systems in fractured rock. Here, we analyze geologic data with ML methods to unravel the local geologic controls on these pathways. The ML method, non-negative matrix factorization with k-means clustering (NMFk), is applied to a library of 14 3D geologic characteristics hypothesized to control hydrothermal circulation in the Brady geothermal field. Our results indicate that macro-scale faults and a local step-over in the fault system preferentially occur along production wells when compared to injection wells and non-productive wells. We infer that these are the key geologic characteristics that control the through-going hydrothermal transmission pathways at Brady. Our results demonstrate: (1) the specific geologic controls on the Brady hydrothermal system and (2) the efficacy of pairing ML techniques with 3D geologic characterization to enhance the understanding of subsurface processes.
- Digital Object Identifier: 10.1186/s40517-021-00199-8
- Source: USGS Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70221769)