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Scientists At Central Oregon Geothermal Site Record Dozens Of 'Mini-Earthquakes'

Scientists with Newberry Geothermal say they’ve recorded a few dozen mini-earthquakes over the last month at their project in Central Oregon. Backers of the project say those tiny quakes are actually a good sign.

That’s because while the ground beneath the Newberry site has a lot of heat, it doesn’t have a lot of water. And in order to make turbines spin, you need water to turn into steam. So right now a company called Atrarock Energy is pumping cold water more than a mile below the earth’s surface. The idea is to create a network of cracks through which water, pumped from the surface, can absorb heat and circulate, like in a radiator.

Susan Petty is the President of Altrarock.

She says those mini-quakes are kind of like what happens when you drop an ice cube into warm water.

Petty explained, “Because the cold is so dramatically different from the hot rock, it causes those fractures to slip due to the natural tectonic forces.”

Petty expects the well could be ready for testing by the end of this month.

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