Predictive modelling of mineral scaling, corrosion and the performance of solute geothermometers in a granitoid-hosted, enhanced geothermal system

Diamond, Larryn William; Alt-Epping, Peter (2014). Predictive modelling of mineral scaling, corrosion and the performance of solute geothermometers in a granitoid-hosted, enhanced geothermal system. Applied geochemistry, 51, pp. 216-228. Pergamon 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2014.09.017

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Experience is lacking with mineral scaling and corrosion in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) in which surface water is circulated through hydraulically stimulated crystalline rocks. As an aid in designing EGS projects we have conducted multicomponent reactive-transport simulations to predict the likely characteristics of scales and corrosion that may form when exploiting heat from granitoid reservoir rocks at ∼200 °C and 5 km depth. The specifications of an EGS project at Basel, Switzerland, are used to constrain the model. The main water–rock reactions in the reservoir during hydraulic stimulation and the subsequent doublet operation were identified in a separate paper (Alt-Epping et al., 2013b). Here we use the computed composition of the reservoir fluid to (1) predict mineral scaling in the injection and production wells, (2) evaluate methods of chemical geothermometry and (3) identify geochemical indicators of incipient corrosion. The envisaged heat extraction scheme ensures that even if the reservoir fluid is in equilibrium with quartz, cooling of the fluid will not induce saturation with respect to amorphous silica, thus eliminating the risk of silica scaling. However, the ascending fluid attains saturation with respect to crystalline aluminosilicates such as albite, microcline and chlorite, and possibly with respect to amorphous aluminosilicates. If no silica-bearing minerals precipitate upon ascent, reservoir temperatures can be predicted by classical formulations of silica geothermometry. In contrast, Na/K concentration ratios in the production fluid reflect steady-state conditions in the reservoir rather than albite–microcline equilibrium. Thus, even though igneous orthoclase is abundant in the reservoir and albite precipitates as a secondary phase, Na/K geothermometers fail to yield accurate temperatures. Anhydrite, which is present in fractures in the Basel reservoir, is predicted to dissolve during operation. This may lead to precipitation of pyrite and, at high exposure of anhydrite to the circulating fluid, of hematite scaling in the geothermal installation. In general, incipient corrosion of the casing can be detected at the production wellhead through an increase in H2(aq) and the enhanced precipitation of Fe-bearing aluminosilicates. The appearance of magnetite in scales indicates high corrosion rates.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Diamond, Larryn William, Alt-Epping, Peter


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Larryn William Diamond

Date Deposited:

29 Jul 2015 10:47

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:48

Publisher DOI:





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