Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

W. Gosnold


Finite difference simulations of the hydrothermal system of the northern Denver Basin are suggestive of a correlation between anomalous heat flux and the presence of faults and structural lineaments mapped in the region. Geothermal, hydrogeological, lithological, and structural data available for the northern Denver Basin were compiled and analyzed in an effort to determine the hydrothermal mechanisms responsible for observed heat flow anomalies in the study area. Measurement of thermal conductivity was conducted for 82 solid core samples and 60 unconsolidated samples from drill cuttings, yielding a harmonic mean thermal conductivity value of 1.52 ± 0.91W m-1 K-1 for the stratigraphic column of the study area. A total of 929 thermal gradient values compiled from several databases were incorporated with thermal conductivity data to produce a heat flow map of the study area, delineating prominent areas of anomalous heat flux. Data was processed using finite difference simulation software (Hydrotherm Interactive) developed by the U.S. Geological Survey for the purposes of modeling and predicting heat and fluid transport in porous media. Two-dimensional cross-sectional models were calibrated using heat flow profiles and available potentiometric surface data for the Madison and Dakota aquifers in the region. Although calibrated models resulted in accurate simulations of non-anomalous heat flow profiles, anomalous heat flow highs were not reproduced. Acknowledging the existence of several major faults and numerous structural lineaments documented in the study area, vertical pathways of fluid flow were added to simulations to recreate the effect of such structural features. Models which incorporated a hypothetical linear fracture sufficiently accounted for previous discrepancies, and indicate probable upward advective flow through existing vertical fractures.

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