Mauna Kea Hydrology Presented By Dr. Don Thomas

The hydrology of Mauna Kea was the subject of a presentation by Dr. Don Thomas in Hilo on Friday.

Thomas, a geochemist and noted groundwater expert on Hawaiʻi Island, shared his work studying the aquifer with the Mauna Kea Management Board.

Thomas explained how a complicated dike complex beneath the summit intercepts infiltrating rainfall recharge and greatly slows its transport toward sea level.

Thomas talked about the high level water in the flanks of Mauna Kea that was confirmed by two recent research holes drilled in the Humuʻula Saddle.

The Mauna Kea Management Board spent a portion of Friday meeting talking about the decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, and how a hydraulic spill back in 2009 was complicating the environmental due diligence of the process.

Thomas downplayed concerns of aquifer contamination, as he explained how the rainfall recharge can take over 2,000 years to filter down to the aquifer.

“If water is taking that length of time, essentially, the likelihood of contaminants surviving that trip is pretty close to zero,” said Thomas. “There is an active, biological community within the geologic formation that even looks at diesel fuel and hydraulic oil as a food source and will break that material down.”

Mauna Kea Hydrology Presented By Dr. Don Thomas
September 30, 2019, by Big Island Video News

VIDEO: Mauna Kea Hydrology Presented By Dr. Don Thomas

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HGGRC Featured in 2019 Hawaii Energy Facts and Figures

The Hawaii State Energy Office featured HGGRC and the Hawaii Play Fairway project in the 2019 Hawaii Energy Facts and Figures:

The Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center (HGGRC) catalogs much of the completed and ongoing geothermal-related explorations in Hawaii. Visit HGGRC at https://www.higp.hawaii.edu/hggrc/.

The ongoing Hawaii Play Fairway Project, managed by HGGRC and funded up to $1.5M by the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office, will provide the first statewide geothermal resource assessment conducted since the late 1970s. Phase I, completed in 2015, involved the identification, compilation, and ranking of existing geologic, groundwater, and geophysical datasets relevant to subsurface heat, fluid, and permeability in Hawaii. Phase II, completed in 2017, involved the collection [of] new groundwater data in 10 locations across the state and new geophysical data on Lanai, Maui, and central Hawaii island, modeling the typography of the areas of interest to better characterize subsurface permeability, and the development of an updated geothermal resource probability map. Phase III involves the collection and analysis of scientific data from existing well sites and may include drilling of a geothermal test well (“slim hole”) at one of the high probability locations determined through Phases I and II. Results from the Hawaii Play Fairway Project will also indicate areas warranting additional geothermal resource exploration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Hawaii Energy Facts and Figures
https://energy.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-FF_Final.pdf  (pg 21)

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Unexplored Geothermal Potential May Offer Solution to Renewables’ Reliability Problem

Hawaii is largely relying on solar panels and battery storage to achieve its 100 percent renewable electricity goal. But geothermal power offers the possibility of carbon-free energy without the inconsistency of solar and wind.

Hawaii is largely relying on solar panels and battery storage to achieve its 100 percent renewable electricity goal. But geothermal power offers the possibility of carbon-free energy without the inconsistency of solar and wind.

Currently, geothermal is not generating any electricity in Hawaii. Puna Geothermal Venture, the state’s only geothermal power plant, closed in 2018 after a near miss with a lava flow from nearby Kilauea Volcano.

Prior to its closing, PGV supplied 31 percent of Hawaii Island’s electricity demand. The plant’s operator says it plans to reopen by the end of 2019.

Geothermal energy has only modest representation in for Hawaii’s energy portfolio. In 2018, prior to PGV’s closure, it supplied less than 4 percent of Hawaii’s total electricity production. Plans for the future include a modest increase in geothermal, but solar remains the dominant source.

But researchers at the University of Hawaii point out that most of the state has not been explored for geothermal potential, a process not unlike surveying for oil deposits.

Research recently presented by graduate student Ted Brennis with the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center indicates that where resources are available, geothermal is competitive with wind and solar on both cost and land use.

He told HPR that Puna Geothermal Venture produces around 1 megawatt of power per acre of land it occupies, far more efficient than its renewable competitors.

“Solar resources generally occupy 5 to 10 acres per installed megawatt. Wind resources fluctuate between 30 and 100 acres per megawatt.”

Geothermal other main advantage is that it can provide what is called baseload capacity, the minimum amount of power needed to be on the grid at any given time.

While solar and wind output fluctuates seasonally and throughout the day, generation from geothermal can be adjusted in the same way a fossil fuel plant can increase or decrease output.

However, there are drawbacks. Surveying for geothermal resources can be costly and time consuming, with no guarantee suitable conditions will be found. Generating power from naturally hot water requires invasive drilling, and sometimes the use of hazardous chemicals.

Blowouts are also a possibility, in which hydrothermal fluids like sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide are unexpectedly released into the atmosphere. Puna Geothermal venture experienced such an incident in 1991.

But Brennis cautions that “no renewable resource is perfect.” He points out that solar panels require the industrial scale mining of quartz, often sourced from open pit mines, and the use of hazardous industrial chemicals in the manufacturing process. Each 2 megawatt wind turbine needs around 700 tons of concrete, a major source of carbon emissions.

So can geothermal be a viable competitor to solar and wind father away from the active Kilauea Volcano? Brennis says that scientists believe the rest of Hawaii Island and Maui have strong potential for geothermal, but no one is really sure.

“That’s the key. We need to better characterize the potential across the rest of the state so we can plan effectively.”

Unexplored Geothermal Potential May Offer Solution to Renewables’ Reliability Problem
July 25, 2019, by Ryan Finnerty, Hawaii Public Radio
https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/post/unexplored-geothermal-potential-may-offer-solution-renewables-reliability-problem#stream/0

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Voice of the Sea

Drs. Nicole Lautze and Donald Thomas shared their water research on the television show Voice of the Sea. In the episode “Water Resources Research,” Don talked about discovering new groundwater sources 10,000 feet below sea level on the Big Island:

[This discovery] helps us better maintain the resource and sort of change our thinking about how to regulate the resource, how to manage the resource, and maybe even ways we can better develop the resource with fewer impacts.

Nicole discussed looking at samples from deep underground and learning how various rock forms affect the flow and storage of freshwater underground:

More and more, we need to focus our work on very practical applications like what’s going to happen to our groundwater supply as the climate changes as population continues to grow. Well, we’ll need to understand where our water is coming from, where it’s stored, how it flows, because as populations grow, contamination issues arise.

For the Telly Awards, this episode won a bronze award in the education category, as announced in a UH news release:

In the education category, Voice of the Sea won a bronze award for “Water Resources Research.” It featured the Water Resources Research Center and how its research furthers understanding of the unique water and wastewater management issues in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

Water Resource Research
Voice of the Sea, UH Seagrant
http://seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/water-resources-research/

Voice of the Sea wins five Telly Awards
May 24, 2019, by Cindy Knapman, UH Manoa news release
https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2019/05/24/manoa-sea-grant-2019-telly-awards/

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Earth scientists share expertise in international volcanology training course

The students proudly show off geologic maps they created with remote-sensing data. The students and instructor Scott Rowland spent this day ground-truthing their maps.

Every year since 1990, technicians and scientists from developing countries with active volcanoes have come to Hawai‘i for a 6-week course to learn the latest volcano-monitoring techniques. The course is run by the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), based out of the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Hilo, and led by Don Thomas, faculty member at the UH Mānoa Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP).

This year, Nicole Lautze (HIGP) and Scott Rowland (Department of Earth Sciences), researchers in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, shared their expertise in physical volcanology and remote sensing with participants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and The Philippines.

The CSAV International Training Program is designed to assist developing nations in attaining self-sufficiency in monitoring volcanoes. The field training emphasizes volcano monitoring methods, both data collection and interpretation, in use by the U.S. Geological Survey and participants are taught how to use and maintain volcano monitoring instruments.

Hawaiian volcanoes are among the most active in the world, but unlike violently explosive volcanoes they can be approached and studied without significant risk. As a result, CSAV provides the ideal environment for practicing volcano monitoring techniques.

In addition to learning to assess volcanic hazards, participants learn the interrelationship of scientists, governing officials, and the news media during volcanic crises.

The course is not geared towards academics, but rather, addresses working in a crisis response mode, focusing on forecasting and rapid response to save lives and property. Since 1990, the program has trained over 250 scientists and technicians, from 30 countries.

CSAV was established by the Hawai’i State Legislature in 1989 and is a collaborative program among HIGP, the UH Hilo Department of Geology, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the UH Mānoa Department of Earth Sciences.

Earth scientists share expertise in international volcanology training course
July 2, 2019 by Marcie Grabowski

Earth scientists share expertise in international volcanology training course

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Geothermal Energy in Hawaii (Research In Manoa)

As Hawaii strives toward 100% renewable energy, geothermal represents the cheapest and most reliable baseload energy source. This week on Research in Manoa, Dr. Nicole Lautze joins Pete Mouginis-Marrk to discuss why geothermal energy is a viable energy resource for Hawaii, what is the relative cost, and where could we look?

Geothermal Energy in Hawaii (Research In Manoa)
Apr 30, 2018, ThinkTech Hawaii
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfjGTy-aEWE

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Keynote Speaker Nicole Lautze Inspires Girls at STEM Conference

As the keynote speaker, our Director Nicole Lautze encouraged girls in grades 6 to 9 to pursue STEM fields at AAUW Honolulu’s Tech Savvy Conference (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). A successful female scientist, Nicole shared her STEM journey and gave words of wisdom to the 80+ girls at the conference.

The Tech Savvy conference was a day-long conference to encourage young ladies to pursue STEM fields. This year’s conference took place at the Hawaii Loa Campus of Hawaii Pacific University in Kaneohe on April 21, 2018.

You need to add a widget, row, or prebuilt layout before you’ll see anything here. 🙂
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Don Thomas Won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to Dr. Donald Thomas — he won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western States Seismic Policy Council!

The WSSPC Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes leaders in earthquake risk reduction. Throughout their careers, the recipients demonstrated an extraordinary commitment, level of service, and application of earthquake risk reduction to public policy.

His biography by WSSPC:

Donald Thomas, Ph.D., is the Director of the University of Hawaii (UH) at Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) as well as a long-standing member of the Hawaii Earthquake and Tsunami Advisory Committee (HETAC). For many years, Dr. Thomas has been doing the work necessary to keep people and the government fully educated and engaged – from scientific inquiry and research, to training and outreach, to undergraduate education – in hazards, mitigation, and monitoring of seismic activity. His dedication to the work has changed the way responders, builders, scientists, policy makers and the general public view, prepare for and respond to earthquakes.

A noteworthy example of his tireless efforts to promote hazard mitigation and awareness in Hawaii is making home earthquake retrofits accessible to homeowners. Don and his students took the detailed and complex designs for retrofitting post-and-pier foundations of homes damaged in the Kiholo Bay earthquake in 2006 and developed an online expert system that walked the homeowner step-by-step through the retrofit selection process. Based on identifying key elements of construction types, the expert system would determine the appropriate retrofit system, output construction drawings that homeowners or contractors could use to implement the retrofit, and provide a shopping list of hardware required to install the retrofit.

The WSSPC featured Don in its February 2018 newsletter (bottom image — click to enlarge).

The Western States Seismic Policy Council is the primary regional organization representing the western states, Pacific provinces, and territories supporting policies of the earthquake and tsunami programs that will reduce losses from earthquakes and their effects.

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Director Nicole Lautze Wins Clean Energy Award

November 2017

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Congratulates 2017 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Awardees
U.S. Department of Energy | news release
“Education – Nicole Lautze, an associate faculty member at the University of Hawaii Manoa, where she founded the Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center. She leads a team of senior scientists in the development of an updated geothermal resource assessment for the state of Hawaii.”

Morning Shakas: UH Researcher Honored
KITV | video
KITV’s morning segment congratulates Dr. Nicole Lautze for winning the 2017 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Award.

UH Manoa Researcher Honored for Clean Energy Education and Empowerment
Kaunana | research publication of the University of Hawaii at Manoa

Nicole Lautze: 2017 Award Winner
Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awards | profile

C3EUSA, Hawaii: Geothermalist Nicole Lautze Wins Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Award
Global Geothermal News | blog
Image result for university of hawaii seal
UH Manoa Research Honored for Clean Energy Education and Empowerment

University of Hawaii | news release

December 7, 2017

A Bipartisan Message of Clean Energy Progress
MIT Energy News | University magazine

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Army taps consortium to find water for training area high up Hawaiian volcano

April 7, 2017
Army taps consortium to find water for training area high up Hawaiian volcano
Public Works Digest via Defense Video Imagery Distribution System | news article
“Dr. Donald Thomas has been a frequent visitor to the high plateau saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The geochemist … likes to drill holes into the mountain. … [The research] documented for the first time two significant aquifers amid a generally porous geologic zone. One was a perched groundwater pocket … The team also found a second aquifer, deeper down, that was huge and hot — 280 degrees F. … Thomas is now looking for ways, through CESU, to help the installation document the extent, quality and availability of the perched aquifer as a potable water source.”

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2017 ThinkTech Hawaii

September 2017

Latest Research in Hawaii’s Geothermal Resource
ThinkTech Hawaii | video
Dr. Nicole Lautze discusses geothermal and clean energy in Hawaii with host Jay Fidell and Sharon Moriwaki (co-chair of the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum).


January 2017

Groundwater and Geothermal Discoveries in Hawaii with Nicole Lautze
ThinkTech Hawaii | video
Dr. Nicole Lautze shares her research on geothermal and sustainable energy, physical volcanology and natural hazards. We learn how Nicole’s work has advanced the Hawai’i Groundwater & Geothermal Resources Center.


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2016 News

October 2016

Amazing Fresh Water Discoveries
ThinkTech Hawaii | video
Dr. Donald Thomas’ remarks at the recent Science Cafe meeting and his research at the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes.


July 2016

Advances in Hawaii’s Renewable Energy Resources: Where Are We?
ThinkTech Hawaii | video
How far along is Hawaii in terms of its renewable energy goals? Which renewable generation sources have been the most effective thus far? The Hawai‘i State Energy Office’s Renewable Energy Branch Chief, Veronica Rocha, and Donald Thomas of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes address these questions.


March 2016

New Techniques for Looking Under the Ground
ThinkTech Hawaii | video
Dr. Donald Thomas and Jay Fidell discuss new techniques for looking underground.

 


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2015 News — First Half

April 17, 2015

KITVUH to start Hualalai geothermal study
KITV | video
Geologists want to see if there is energy under the volcano that can be tapped for geothermal power.


March 30, 2015

ThinkTech_How Hot is Your Hawaii imageHow Hot is Your Hawaii? New Geothermal Resources Center
ThinkTech Hawaii | a television show interview with Dr. Nicole Lautze and Jay Fidell

 


March 24, 2015

Image result Geothermal Exploration Coming To Kona
Big Island Video News | news article

Hualalai geothermal study planned
West Hawaii Today | news article

Hualalai geothermal study planned
West Hawaii Today via Hawaii Tribune-Herald | news article

Big Island volcano geothermal study planned
KITV | news article and video

Big Island volcano geothermal study planned
Associated Press via Hawaii News Now | news article

Researcher seeks permit for geothermal study at Hualalai volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island
Associated Press via The Washington Times | news article

Hualalai Geothermal Study Planned
Global Geothermal News, Geothermal Resources Council | blog entry

Geothermal Study Planned for Hualalai
Civil Beat | news article


March 18, 2015

Ground Water UH website makes groundwater research public
Ka Leo O Hawaii | news article

 


March 10, 2015

Hawaii: Groundwater and geothermal data compiled for first time
International Association of Hydrogeologists 


March 5, 2015

New database a tool in groundwater, geothermal discussions
West Hawaii Today | news article


March 3, 2015

Image result for hawaii public radioDr. Lautze’s interview regarding HGGRC aired on Hawaii Public Radio (an affiliate of NPR).

Hawaii Public Radio | audio clip


March 2, 2015

Hawaiʻi groundwater and geothermal data compiled for first time
University of Hawaii at Manoa | press release

Hawaiʻi groundwater and geothermal data compiled for first time
University of Hawaii (UH) News | press release


January 23, 2015

humuula1Large fresh water supply discovered by UH researchers on Hawaiʻi Island
UH News
| news article

 

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Unexpected discovery in Humuula saddle region prompts new test

February 18, 2014

HIGHER WATERS: Unexpected discovery in Humuula saddle region prompts new tests
Hawaii Tribune-Herald | news article

“Unexpectedly high water in the Humuula saddle region, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, prompted a University of Hawaii researcher to seek a new site for additional tests.

Donald Thomas, director of the university’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes, in 2012, received permission to drill two bore holes to collect core samples. While drilling the first sample, Thomas said, scientists got some interesting preliminary results.

“We found water that was at a higher elevation than expected,” Thomas said.

They found the first thin band of water about 500 feet below the surface. A thicker band was present at about 700 feet, and a regional water table was at 1,800 feet, Thomas said.

“That’s considerable shallower than we anticipated,” he added.

Because of those preliminary findings, Thomas decided to seek a new site, about seven miles from the original one, to check to see how widespread that water table is. … Click for more

http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/higher-waters-unexpected-discovery-humuula-saddle-region-prompts-new-tests

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