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Relationship of geological and geothermal field properties: Midcontinent area, USA, an example

January 1, 1993

Quantitative approaches to data analysis in the last decade have become important in basin modeling and mineral-resource estimation. The interrelation of geological, geophysical, geochemical, and geohydrological variables is important in adjusting a model to a real-world situation. Revealing the interdependences of variables can contribute in understanding the processes interacting in sedimentary basins. It is reasonably simple to compare spatial data of the same type but more difficult if different properties are involved. Statistical techniques, such as cluster analysis or principal components analysis, or some algebraic approaches can be used to ascertain the relations of standardized spatial data. In this example, structural configuration on five different stratigraphic horizons, one total sediment thickness map, and four maps of geothermal data were copared. As expected, the structural maps are highly related because all had undergone about the same deformation with differing degrees of intensity. The temperature gradients derived (1) from shallow borehole logging measurements under equilibrium conditions with the surrounding rock, and (2) from non-equilibrium bottom-hole temperatures (BHT) from deeper depths are mainly independent of each other. This was expected and confirmed also for the two temperature maps at 1000 ft which were constructed using both types of gradient values. Thus, it is evident that the use of a 2-point (BHT and surface temperature) straightline calculation of a mean temperature gradient gives different information about the geothermal regime than using gradients from temperatures logged under equilibrium conditions. Nevertheless, it is useful to determine to what a degree the larger dataset of nonequilibrium temperatures could reflect quantitative relationships to geologic conditions. Comparing all maps of geothermal information vs. the structural and the sediment thickness maps, it was determined that all correlations are moderately negative or slightly positive. These results are clearly shown by the cluster analysis and the principal components. Considering a close relationship between temperature and thermal conductivity of the sediments as observed for most of the Midcontinent area and relatively homogeneous heat-flow density conditions for the study area these results support the following assumptions: (1) undifferentiated geothermal gradients, computed from temperatures of different depth intervals and differing sediment properties, cannot contribute to an improved understanding of the temperature structure and its controls within the sedimentary cover, and (2) the quantitative approach of revealing such relations needs refined datasets of temperature information valid for the different depth levels or stratigraphic units. ?? 1993 International Association for Mathematical Geology.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1993
Title Relationship of geological and geothermal field properties: Midcontinent area, USA, an example
DOI 10.1007/BF00891052
Authors A. Forster, D.F. Merriam, J.C. Brower
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Mathematical Geology
Index ID 70017346
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse