Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science

Department

Engineering Science

First Advisor

Louis Zachos

Second Advisor

Greg Easson

Third Advisor

Lance Yarbrough

Abstract

Geothermal energy is exploited through the process of using hot water or steam extracted from reservoirs of geothermal heat in Earth's crust which is derived from the upward convection and conduction of heat from Earth’s mantle and core. This energy can be harnessed to power geothermal heat pumps, heat water, or to generate electricity. Previous geothermal assessments of Mississippi have been locally focused, either in the southern Mississippi River flood plains or in eastern north central Mississippi at an active lignite coal mine. The focus of this project was to calculate and map heat flow estimates within the entire state of Mississippi. Assessment of well log datasets, estimating thermal conductivity values within broad stratigraphic intervals, and creating a new geothermal gradient model allowed me to delineate patterns of temperature resources sufficient for future geothermal applications. This study also provides preliminary geophysical evidence of a high geothermal temperature gradient spatially associated with major tectonic features in Mississippi. The potential economic reward for mapping this clean, renewable energy source could be enormous. The overall environmental impacts are considerably lower than fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. The future of geothermal systems also has the potential for lower impacts in comparison to other renewables like solar, biomass, and wind. This is because the power source is contained underground, and the energy conversion equipment is relatively compact making the overall environmental footprint very small in comparison with other sources.

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