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Fossil fuels, geothermal mapped in state report

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 12:01am

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys recently released a 144-page report detailing the geothermal and fossil fuel resources available to Alaska communities.

Southeast Alaska was not gifted with vast resources of coal. Deposits are discontinuous and quality varies from low quality lignite to mid-quality bituminous.

Relatively small exposures can be found on Admiralty, Kupreanof, Kuiu, Zarembo and Prince of Wales islands.

Oil and gas deposits are located in the northern Gulf of Alaska basin in the Yakutat terrane. The underexplored area is estimated to be home to 630 million barrels of oil and 4.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, technically recoverable resources.

Southeast Alaska has the second highest geothermal prospectivity in the state.

Bell Island has thermal springs currently used to heat the main lodge and several cabins at the Bell Island fishing resort. Bailey Bay hot springs, 50 miles north of Ketchikan, has the highest measured surface discharge temperature in the Southeast, according to the report. The site has an estimated reservoir temperature of 302F. Tenakee Inlet thermal spring, located north of Tenakee Village on Chichagof Island, has a measured surface temperature of 176F.

The Fossil Fuel and Geothermal Energy Sources for Local Use in Alaska report is a supplement to the Alaska Energy Authority’s Renewable Energy Atlas and Alaska Energy Pathway, a resource on renewable energy resources that include wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power.

Work on the Survey report began four years ago and draws from 50 years of scientific literature and data compilation.

“The Survey report evaluates natural gas, coal and geothermal resources throughout Alaska that may exist in sufficient quantities to provide local energy, using existing technology,” according to a DGGS report summary.

“…most areas of the state have some potential for local energy production – from renewable or non-renewable sources, or a combination,” said DGGS Director Bob Swenson.



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