Bald Spot Week 1: Site Mobilization in Preparation for Drill Rigs

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Bald Spot is currently being mobilized in preparation for the arrival of drill rigs that will arrive at the beginning of next week. Fencing has been put up around the perimeter of the Bald Spot and stakes that are place-markers for where each individual borehole will be drilled have been set up around the field.

Introducing our student researchers!

This summer we have two student researchers who will be working on-site alongside the project team while conducting some research of their own.

Quentin and Natasha 

Quentin Hirsch

Hometown: Geneva, Switzerland

Major: Geology

What are you working on this summer?

I will be working at Carleton this summer following the construction of the geothermal wells on the Bald Spot. In addition to gaining geothermal engineering experience this summer, I will be doing my own research for my comps next year. I will be following the engineers and the workers on-site to get experience in geothermal project development. For my comps research I will be looking at the wells that will be dug. I will be logging the depth and the materials extracted from each well, while paying attention to the individual differences between them. I hope to be able to log several of these wells and collect samples with the goal of understanding the local geology and groundwater movement under the bald spot.

Natasha Dietz

Hometown: Mercer Island, Washington

Major: Geology

What about geology do you find interesting?

I’m really interested in groundwater hydrology and chemistry, which is why I wanted to be involved in this project. Geology is interesting to me because it relates processes that occur on Earth through various scientific subjects and on various time scales, from events that occur in the blink of an eye (think of volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis) to long-term events that document Earth’s deep history (plate tectonics, sediment deposition and fossils).

What are you working on this summer?

This summer I’ll be researching the interactions between the geologic units of this area and groundwater movement to determine the suitability of different borehole infill materials for vertical boreholes that are used with geothermal heat pump systems to optimize hydrothermal productivity. More specifically, I’ll be focusing on comparing the performances of the Mini Bald Spot geothermal field, which is mostly filled with Bentonite (clay) cement, and the Bald Spot, which will be partially filled with pea gravel, a much more porous backfill that groundwater flows through much more easily, allowing it to continually carry heat away from the field, making it much more geothermally productive. I’m really looking forward to working with and learning from the project team on site this summer, and especially towards being part of a project that will be central to Carleton’s movement towards becoming a more sustainable campus.

Taiyi Wang

Taiyi in the field 

Hometown: Wuxi, China

Major: Geology

What about geology do you find interesting?

I first got interested in geology because I was fascinated by the adventurous spirit of the discipline and the beauty of minerals. Now my research interest is mostly in applied geophysics and geothermal energy.

What are you working on this summer?

This summer I’m working with Dr. Mary Savina and the sustainability office on a project pertinent to the ground-source heat pumps on campus. My focus is using MATLAB to model and visualize heat transfer between the boreholes and the ambient geological materials in the presence of groundwater. This process involves finding analytical solutions to model temperature gain/loss as a function of position relative to the borehole. This summer I want to refine my understanding of local stratigraphy through observation of drilling work and apply the knowledge to the computer model.

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