Friday, December 19, 2008

Ormat discovers magma chamber in Hawaii

Ormat Technologies, the U.S. subsidiary of Yavne, Israel-based Ormat, discovered magma while drilling a geothermal well in Hawaii and announced the discovery this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

The discovery was the first time magma was found its natural environment instead of being ejected by volcano eruption, said Bruce Marsh, a geologist at the Johns Hopkins University and a magma expert, during a press event at the AGU meeting.

"It's like Jurassic Park – it's what's for me, to see this in its natural habitat," Marsh said. "This is a singular event, the first contact with inner Earth."

Ormat began drilling the well in the Puna Geothermal Venture field and power plant in the eastern part of the Big Island of Hawaii in 2005.

Ormat, which has been operating the Puna field and 30-megawatt power plant since 1993, has no commercial use for the magma, but the magma's high temperature means the rock surrounding it could be ideal for extracting geothermal energy.

Ormat plans to drill in areas above the magma chamber and inject water into wells to produce the steam necessary for electricity generation, said Lucien Bronicki, chairman and chief technology officer of Ormat, after the AGU press event.

Related Posts:

Ormat completes $150m Kenyan geothermal project

Ormat secures Alaskan geothermal rights

Ormat projects approved in Nevada