Harnessing the Power of Yellowstone


"The geothermal potential of Yellowstone is huge."

Yellowstone Caldera

Yellowstone National Park has literally thousands of square miles of hot magma underneath, which will someday erupt. This isn't just a small volcano! Geologists say it's possible that a major eruption there would be thousands of times greater than that of Mt. St. Helens. It would put the US under several feet of volcanic ash, and likely put the planet into an ice age.

But, with planning, we can prevent this scenario with geothermal development. The geothermal potential of Yellowstone is huge. It is like a giant nuclear reactor, fired by the natural decay of underground radioactive elements.

Presently the most common method of geothermal exploitation is a dual-well system, with one well injecting water and the other extracting steam. However, the flow of water through the cracked rocks also extracts sulfur, a pollutant. Dual-well systems are also cumbersome because they require a special exchanger to cool the water.

However, a more elegant method might be to create artificial geysers. Single wells could be drilled into hot areas, then filled with water to create geysers. Steam pushes the water skyward through electrical generators. The steam then becomes clouds, which then propagate more rain. Since single geothermal wells never flow water through cracked rocks, sulfur pollution is not a problem. Artificial geysers may be the way to go, though they do require more water than dual-well systems.

Yellowstone's Nymph Lake Norris

It would be a sight to see 10,000 wells sending water skyward. Although it would be a huge project, it could eliminate the need for many coal and nuclear power plants. Geothermal development could power the entire Midwest.

The fact is geothermal development of Yellowstone could power the country.

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