No scientific link between the Soufriere eruption and geothermal drilling – NationNews Barbados – nationnews.com

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Eruptions at La Soufrière, April 14, 2021 (Photo courtesy of Thomas Christopher, MVO)

Kingstown – Tying geothermal exploration to the La Soufriere eruption is like expecting a deep injection of skin to pierce your heart, said geologist Professor Richard Robertson in response to questions about the question whether drilling on the slopes of the volcano last year could have resulted in the current eruptions.

“In the case of geothermal energy, both on this volcano and on other volcanoes, there is no scientific evidence that they should influence each other in terms of starting a volcano. And certainly, in this case, we don’t think that’s the case, ”he said.

In 2019, the government drilled three wells as part of the geothermal power project, but each failed to produce the required permeability. Then, in December 2020, after nearly 42 years of inactivity, La Soufrière began to erupt effusively, then exploded on April 9 – an eruption that continues to this day.

In one of his daily updates on NBC public radio, Robertson was asked if there was a link between geothermal drilling and the volcano eruption.

“I think that even before Soufriere was active, we were asked questions about it and I made the analogy with the fact that geothermal energy – I look at it in the context of the human body and the source volcanism – is like deep below the surface of your body, a kind of heart, right inside the core of your structure while the way you tap into geothermal energy is really tapping into the hot rocks that heat up the fluids that are above that.

“So it’s kind of like sticking a needle through your skin and thinking that this needle that goes through your skin is going to kind of touch your heart. This is how the dimensions are, ”he explained.

Robertson further explained that during geothermal activity, the deepest well “sank less than 3 kilometers (1.86 miles), 3,000 meters (9,842 feet)”, while “the thing” that is at the The origin of the eruptions is at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) below the earth’s surface.

“Geothermal energy has been applied successfully in areas experiencing ongoing volcanic eruptions,” he added, citing Iceland as an example.

“Icelandic volcanoes erupt all the time, you’ve seen it. . . and they have serious geothermal operations and they don’t touch each other. Because they only work at different levels. They operate at different depths and interact with different types of materials than magma.

“The magma chamber is deep below the surface and it works on the basis of timescales that have to do with plate tectonics, which have to do with the movement of tectonic plates on a larger scale than geothermal energy works.

“I don’t see scientifically how it could have affected him. It’s not like you’re drilling in the magma chamber. If you did that, I suggest that the drill would have been burnt and destroyed long before it got close to the chamber. It would have been destroyed at the hot rock stage, not even the chamber, ”added the geologist.

Robertson said he understood the concern that there might be a connection. But he said that “there are a lot of things that happen together that are fortuitous and not causal.” (CMC)



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