Fiona Chapman
Ph.D. student


Supervised by:

Jasmin Raymond (Regular member)

Research project description

Quantifying geothermal resources next to the Denali Fault in southwest Yukon using hydrothermal modelling

Introduction: The Government of Yukon has committed to reducing GHG emission by 30% by 2030, taking a lead role in climate action in Canada. Geothermal energy provides a renewable and continuous source of energy that can be harvested from the Earth’s subsurface. Investment in geothermal energy would aid the Government of Yukon in meeting their emission goals by providing a renewable heating source, notably in remote communities. Currently, reliance on diesel for energy is common in many Nordic communities but is neither environmentally sustainable nor economically sound. Objectives: Preliminary research into the geothermal potential in Yukon has been undertaken by the Yukon Geological Survey, in collaboration with First Nation governments, universities, and geothermal consultants. My research focuses on the Duke River area located in close proximity to the Denali fault with an aim to support Burwash Landing community home to the Kluane First Nation. Through this research, I aim to better understand the hydrothermal phenomenon affecting geothermal resources of the Duke River area. There are four primary objectives: 1) Report geothermal context of southwestern Yukon, 2) Identify the primary heat transfer mechanisms in the subsurface in the Duke River area by characterising thermo-hydraulic properties, 3) Evaluate temperature at depth, groundwater flow patterns, and heat flux of Burwash Landing through numerical modelling, and 4) Quantify geothermal resources at Burwash Landing. Study sites: Burwash Landing is a community located in the Duke River area of southwestern Yukon on traditional territory of the Kluane, Dnendeh, and White River-Kluane. Based on the 2016 census, it has a population of 72 people. The Duke River area includes Kluane National Park and Reserve and Burwash Landing community. Burwash Landing is located on the northeast edge of the defined Duke River area in close proximity to the eastern Denali fault. Fractures have been inferred in the Duke River area surrounding the primary fault. The abundant faults and fractures suggest high hydraulic conductivity, whereas the high density (2.4 to 3.0 g/cm3) and low resistivity (20 to 2900 ꭥ⸱m) suggest high thermal conductivity. These initial conditions are suggestive of advantageous conditions for the geothermal resources. Material and methods: In March 2022, Yukon Geological Survey will drill a 1500 m borehole at Burwash Landing. During 2022 field work, I will collect core samples from the borehole and rock samples from local outcrops while mapping local fractures. X-ray diffraction will then be used to identify any evidence of hydrothermal minerals within the different rock layers and core plugs will be prepared to determine the grain density, porosity, and permeability of each lithology with a gas permeameter from CoreTest. Hydraulic conductivity will be measured in the field, in addition to the lab, using the Porchet method to gain a field-scaled estimate. Thermal conductivity of consolidated and unconsolidated deposits will be measured using a Lippen & Rauen thermal conductivity scanner and a K2D Pro needle probe, respectively. Expected results: A numerical model will be developed on FEFLOW to simulate subsurface flow and heat transport around Burwash Landing. Final results will be used to quantify geothermal resources and determine the feasibility of harvesting geothermal energy in the Duke River area. Geothermal energy will be beneficial to remote communities, such as Burwash Landing, which is currently reliant on diesel to produce electricity and heating. Evaluating the geothermal potential in southwestern Yukon is an essential step toward the Government of Yukon’s goal to reduce GHG emission by 30% by 2030 and demonstrate the benefits of continuous heat production in low temperature regions thereby contributing to increasing the presence of renewables in the global energy mix.

Research Site Coordinates

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