Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William D. Gosnold


At present, the risks and costs associated with geothermal energy wildcat exploration are prohibitive. With improved technology, the future may be brighter, and a play fairway analysis, for geothermal exploration can guide development. Comparing geophysical data with geothermal gradient allows identification of potentially economic areas of interest. The play fairway analysis is a common tool used by the petroleum industry to identify areas for potential exploration. The analysis identifies areas in the Denver, Illinois, Michigan, and Williston Basins with the highest development potential. A great deal of data have potential for a play fairway analysis, but data quality is problematic due to systematic errors in bottom-hole temperatures (BHTs). Corrections to bottom-hole temperatures are necessary due to the perturbation of temperature caused by the drilling mud, and can range from 5 to 30 °C. Correction schemes for bottom-hole temperatures can be applied to both the energy-in-place estimates and play fairway analyses. The Harrison equation is the most accurate for basins less than 4.5 km deep. The Kehle correction is the most accurate for basins deeper than 4.5 km.

Chapter II explains why BHTs grouped by depth are more statistically robust than those grouped by geochronological unit. Chapter III demonstrates why the Harrison Equation is the best correction method to use for BHTs. Chapters IV and V give the volumetric energy-in-place for the Denver, Illinois, and Michigan Basins for discrete temperature ranges, and Chapter 6 provides the final Play Fairway Favorability maps.