Preliminary Play Fairway Analysis of Geothermal Resources in Southern Thailand



Key Words:

Non-volcanic geothermal system, Low- to medium-enthalpy hot springs, Play fairway analysis, Southern Thailand


Stanford Geothermal Workshop







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Southern Thailand is a non-volcanic area encompassing 70,000 km2 that contains a reported 31 low- to medium- enthalpy hot springs. Dominant rock types are Paleozoic to Cenozoic sedimentary rock and Mesozoic granitic rock. The area is about 500 km east of the Andaman-Sumatra Subduction Zone resulting from the subduction of the Indian-Australian plate under the Eurasian plate. Two major active strike-slip faults exist within southern Thailand - the Ranong and Khlong Marui faults. Half of the 31 hot springs are located near these two fault zones and are related to contacts between the granitic body and Paleozoic-Cenozoic sedimentary rock unit. We use the relationship between hot springs, satellite gravity data, geologic maps, airborne magnetic data, and seismicity as key evidence to consider the geothermal resource potential of the area. Our goal is to apply the Play Fairway Analysis method for the first time in Thailand to evaluate geothermal resources. The required elements for a viable geothermal Play are heat (H) and permeability (P). To date, this preliminary study will: (1) map and contour the existing geology, geochemistry, and geophysics datasets of southern Thailand; (2) identify and rank datasets relevant to heat, and permeability, which we consider necessary for a viable geothermal play; (3) make a basic assessment of development viability, and (4) present a data collection plan. From a basic qualitative interpretation, geothermal systems in the study area are mainly controlled by the tectonic environment in terms of heat and permeability. The subsurface heat source results in the convection of hot fluid that transports heat from depth to the reservoir and surface via fluid pathways; faults and fractures, expressed in the form of hot springs. The consideration of high potential target areas is based on; 1) indicators of high heat anomalies including high exit temperatures and reservoir temperature hot springs, locations of high thermal conductivity rocks, and radio-active decayed granitic body; 2) indicators of high permeability that are low gravity anomaly and presence of hot springs; 3) faults, which relate to both anomalous high heat and high permeability. This study unveils potential future target areas for geothermal data collection and potential development for purposes including tourism, farming, and even geothermal electricity production in Ranong, Phang Nga, Surat Thani, and Yala geothermal provinces.

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