New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

The Rio Grande Rift, Mining, and Geothermal Energy

Frederick Henderson

Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC, Climax, CO

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The Rio Grande Rift Zone is a growing ~30 MY extensional structural split in the SW North American plate running from near Leadville, Colorado, south to northern Mexico. Many mineral deposits, including a new Mo/Cu/Au porphyry prospect in the San Luis Valley, occur along the rift co-located with high heat flow capable of heating geothermal waters. A previous owner of the Climax Mine, AMAX Exploration, did extensive geothermal exploration of the northern rift near the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs area in the Arkansas Valley, Chaffee CO, Colorado, in the mid 1970’s. The goal was to find cheaper energy for the Climax mining operation. AMAX sought a steam-based resource typical of the time and was unsuccessful. Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC began more recent exploration for geothermal energy in the Arkansas Valley in 2008, aided by data from the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado Geological Survey, and AMAX. Several drill ready or prospective targets near the Mt Princeton Hot Spring Resort area have been developed utilizing a new exploration approach based on structural geology, seismology, magneto-tellurics, airborne magnetics, and remote sensing. This exploration model may apply to several other similar basins in Colorado and south along the rift zone into New Mexico. At present, the current primary target awaits funding for reservoir confirmation drilling. Delays in drilling have been caused by the recent addition of new local and state regulations, industry reluctance to invest in “over regulated and too environmental” Chaffee County / Colorado, and bouts of Nimbyism. The eventual success of this first hydrothermal geothermal energy 10+MW plant in Colorado should lead to additional discoveries south in Chaffee County, the San Luis Valley and into New Mexico along the Rio Grande rift zone.

pp. 27

2024 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 19, 2024, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800