University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering

Geothernal Power 

Geothermal power is a renewable energy source generated by harnessing the earth's natural heat from underground reservoirs of steam, hot water, and hot rocks in the crust.

The USCEI has done extensive work in evaluating and assessing geothermal resources by investigating various reservoir technologies to improve the overall efficiency of the geothermal process. The USCEI geothermal project works in collaboration with Calpined the Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop improved methods for better characterizing fractures in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).



  • Determining location of fractures.
  • Fracture spacing and orientation during drilling.
  • Characterizing open fractures after simulation to help identify the location of liquid flow pathways within the EGS reservoir.


Different types of passive seismic data are used to further advance the technology of geothermal applications as well as to test and implement these methods. Passive seismic technologies utilize seismic receivers to detect the creation of subsurface fractures by recording the noise ("micro-seismic" events) accompanying their formation.

Several complementary approaches are also used to develop and test new data collection, modeling, and analysis techniques

  • Micro-seismic data analysis both for compressional waves and shear waves.
  • Soft computing (neural networks, fuzzy logic, genetics algorithms) is to analyze and interpret seismic data and create velocity fields using tomography.


Related Organizations

  • Center for Geothermal Studies
  • Calpined the Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory