This Oregon Field Guide story begins with a multi-million-dollar failure. Just outside the boundary of the Newberry Crater National Monument, an energy company spent millions of dollars to drill test wells two miles deep in hopes of striking hot water. Unfortunately, there was no water. But the exploration didn’t stop there. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Thursday, February 16 at 8:30pm and find out how these hot dry wells might just lead to a revolutionary advance in renewable energy.
Newberry Geothermal – The Newberry Crater is actually an enormous active volcano. A 9,000-foot mountain once stood here before it collapsed 75,000 years ago, forming the giant hole we see today. It’s erupted many times since then, most recently around 1,300 years ago. Scientists figured that the area around Oregon’s largest volcano would be a good source of geothermal energy. Indeed, the rock lying at the end of the 10,000-foot wellhead initially bored, measured around 600 degrees Fahrenheit. But since there was no water, the experiment has taken a new tact. Now the plan is to create massive reservoirs two miles under ground. The earth would heat the cold water injected into fissures in the rocks and pumps would bring the hot water back out for energy production. Field Guide examines the process, its potential and the problems involved in taping some of the endless heat trapped in the earth’s core.
Beacon Rock – Jim Opdycke lives life by the fingertips. He’s known as the unofficial “mayor” of Beacon Rock. Opdycke has climbed this spectacular basalt monolith in the Columbia gorge for over 40 years and has contributed perhaps more than anyone to the unique climbing culture of Beacon. It’s one of the toughest big-wall climbs in the Northwest. Field Guide joins Jim on a climb up the 900-foot face, cameras in tow, to learn about the specialized style of climbing known as “trad” – considered the most pure of climbing styles.
Ditch Fish – Grass seed farmers in the Willamette Valley found out they’re not just growing grass in their fields; they’re also raising native fish in farm ditches running through their acreage. Although dry during the summer, these ditches fill with water during the winter and connect to streams that feed the Willamette River. OSU researchers recently discovered young native fish thriving in this unexpected habitat.
Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/ or watch entire programs at watch.opb.org.
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About OREGON FIELD GUIDE
In its 23rd season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.
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