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Cornell’s Geothermal Heat Aspiration and 2022 Cornell University Borehole Observatory

  • 04 Jan 2023
  • Online

Central New York Association of Professional Geologists

Cornell's Geothermal Heat Aspiration and 2022 Cornell University Borehole Observatory

Dr. Teresa Jordan (Cornell University)

4 January 2023

Join CNYAPG for their for an opportunity of Continuing Education (PDH Credit Pending) by Dr. Teresa Jordan on Cornell's Geothermal Heat Aspiration and 2022 Borehole Observatory.

Visit for more information and to register.


Although geothermal energy is available everywhere, tapping this energy source as direct-use heat has lagged. Successful large scale direct-use heat systems demonstrate the commercial potential, drawing heat from rocks whose temperature is roughly the same as that of central New York at 6000-10,000 ft depth. Cornell University is advancing toward a large-scale demonstration of the potential to heat the Ithaca campus with ~70-90 °C geothermal heat. If successful, this would be a major part of displacing Cornell’s fossil energy by 2035 and, also, it would advance the growth of this new energy sector elsewhere in the region.

This presentation will summarize a decade of analysis of archived data from hydrocarbon exploration and development wells which led to an understanding of the variability of thermal gradients and reservoir properties in the Appalachian Basin rocks of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. However, those data provide scant insight to fluid flow potential in the Cambrian strata and no information for the metamorphic basement. Consequently, to advance analysis and design of a geothermal reservoir, a 3-km deep geothermal exploratory well -- the Cornell University Borehole Observatory (CUBO) -- was drilled on the Ithaca, NY campus in the summer of 2022. The drilling operations, borehole completion, and contracted experts were very similar to those of a standard Appalachian Basin gas drilling program, overseen by NY-DEC’s standard regulations for a stratigraphic well.

CUBO extends through largely low porosity and low permeability Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, and 390 ft into granulite-grade Grenville metamorphic basement rocks. Major objectives for wireline logs and borehole tests were to explore potential fracture-dominated reservoir targets, requiring stress, fracture distribution, and hydrologic data. CUBO is designed to be a dedicated observatory and testing borehole, separate from any future operational well pairs. The presentation will discuss the preliminary results of our analysis of the various geologic, hydrologic, logging, sampling, and downhole testing data acquired.

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