Geothermal Potential of a Passive Margin in the Baja California Peninsula, México



Key Words:

heat flow, oblique rifting, extensional regime, mantle upwelling


Stanford Geothermal Workshop







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Currently regional exploration models utilize Play fairway analysis, and an important parameter to guide the feasibility of an area is the geologic environment; in this context, passive margins have been classified as low heat flow regions unsuitable for geothermal exploration. Nevertheless, they should not be ruled out because heat flow studies have revealed drifting margin locations where high heat discharge generates a promising geothermal resource. The geothermal gradient variation in the passive margins depends on the thermal regime present during the initial rifting processes, the rifting style, the heat generation in the margin crust, and the thermal interaction with the spreading centers. Recently, intense heat discharge has been determined in two passive margins: the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Aden. Both areas are linked with oblique rifting. In the Gulf of Aden there is presence of recent volcanism and in the Gulf of California southeastern passive margin seismological studies have discovered crustal thinning and intense seismic activity related with active extension. Heat flow measured in both areas reaches values above 600 mW·m-2, which makes them suitable areas for geothermal exploration.

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