Did you know… Italy is home to the oldest geothermal plant in the world?

Did you know… Italy is home to the oldest geothermal plant in the world?

The first geothermal plant in the world is located in Tuscany, Italy.

The Larderello geothermal plant was constructed in the early twentieth century thanks to Prince Piero Ginori Conti of Trevignano. Through his work in the processing of boric acid, Conti found his way into the world of geothermal energy and, in 1904, created the first geothermal energy generator.

Stationed in the Larderello dry steam field, his generator could produce up to 10 kW of energy. It also powered five light bulbs.

From there, Larderello’s geothermal potential expanded. In 1911, in an area called Devil’s Valley, construction of a geothermal plant was begun. The plant was completed in 1913.

That first plant, Larderello 1, had a capacity of 250 kW and could produce 2750 kW of electricity. That electricity powered the Italian railway system as well as the nearby villages of Volterra and Larderello.

The original plant has been gradually expanded over the years and now consists of 34 plants, which are operated by the Italian company Enel Green Power, or EGP. The site has a capacity of 800MW, which has resulted in Italy becoming the sixth-largest geothermal energy producer in the world.



Did you know… Mount Erebus is the southernmost volcano in the world?

Did you know... Mount Erebus is the southernmost volcano in the world?

Located on the western half of Ross Island stands Mount Erebus – the tallest active volcano in Antarctica. Mt Erebus is the largest and only active center of the four volcanic peaks (Mt. Bird, Mt. Terra Nova, and Mt. Terror) that make up the triangular-shaped island.

Erebus is the southernmost volcano in the world, and it is most famous for its lava lake and ice fumaroles. Sitting on a relatively thin continental crust, molten magma easily erupts on the surface, having originated from deep in the Earth’s interior. Continuous emissions of gas and steam provide just the right conditions for building towering columns of ice known as ice fumaroles. Volcanic eruptions are frequent, but the blasts are relatively mild and of the Strombolian-type.

The stratovolcano is 3794 meters (12,447 feet) above sea level. The average summit temperature is around -20˚C (-4˚F) during the summer and -50˚C (-58˚F) in the winter.

Erebus glacier extends down the lower flanks of the cone. Where it flows into McMurdo Sound at sea level, an impressive 11-kilometer (~ 7 mile) long ice tongue protrudes into the sea as the annual snowfall exceeds the annual snowmelt. The ice tongue ranges 50 to 300 m (~164 to 984 ft) in thickness and stands 10 meters (33 feet) above the waterline.

Mount Erebus was first discovered and seen erupting by Captain James Ross, an explorer, in 1841 when he and his crew sailed past the island. It was later scaled by members of an expedition led by Ernest Shackleton in 1908. However, in the following 100 years, it has been rarely visited.

All photo credits to Phil Wannamaker.




Did you know… there is a submarine volcano in Antarctica?

Did you know… there is a submarine volcano in Antarctica?

Deception Island, Antarctica is home to an active submarine volcano which has created a large volcanic crater in the middle of the South Shetland Islands.

The total land area of the island is 98.5 km2(~38.0 mi2), with a diameter of 15 km (~9.3 mi). The island rises up to 539 m (~1768.4 ft) above the sea level. More than 57% of the island is covered by permanent glaciers.

The average annual air temperature is -3˚C (26.6˚F); however, temperatures can range from a high of 11˚C to a chilly -28˚C (51.8˚F to -18.4˚F.)

The island’s geothermal heat is found just below the surface. This means visitors can dig a shallow depression into black sand beaches to enjoy the warmth - especially appealing after taking a

Technically, there are no official hot springs on the island, however, along the shoreline of Pendulum Cove, there are thermal springs with temperatures over 70˚C (158˚F). Due to the mixture the cold and hot water, a natural hot tub is created.

But before you jump in, consult a trained expert or experienced expedition guide. They know which areas are safe for a relaxing soak in the steamy water.

Stay tuned to learn about the other active volcano, Erebus.




Did you know… Alaska uses geothermal energy to produce electricity?

Did you know… Alaska uses geothermal energy to produce electricity?

It might seem highly unlikely that geothermal energy could be harnessed in the Arctic climate of Alaska considering HOT water is required. However, this is not the case! Geothermal reservoirs can be found almost anywhere in the world. In fact, Alaska has 97 known thermal springs and is one of eight states to use geothermal energy to produce electricity. The first geothermal power plant in Alaska launched in 2006 at Chena Hot Springs and can generate up to 730 kilowatts of power. It is located in the Interior hot springs geothermal region.

The Chena Hot Springs Resort uses geothermal energy in many different ways. The geothermal energy generated supplies power and heat to its greenhouses, swimming pools, and other facilities. In order to produce the power, a binary plant, that runs on the organic Rankine cycle, is used with a generating capacity of 680 kW. The plant runs on 165˚F (~73.9˚C) water meaning the geothermal power plant generates electricity at the lowest temperature in the world. The resort also has a 16-ton absorption chiller, which uses geothermal energy to keep their outdoor ice museum frozen all year round.

Including the Interior hot springs, there are two other active geothermal regions in Alaska – the Southeast hot springs and the “Ring of Fire” volcanoes. The Interior hot springs run from the Yukon Territory in Canada to the Seward Peninsula in Alaska. The “Ring of Fire” volcanoes include the Alaska Peninsula, Mount Edgecumbe, the Aleutians, and the Wrangell Mountains.

Currently, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, or ACEP, is working with landowners, multiple utilities, and communities to assess resources and evaluate options for the development of geothermal energy in multiple parts of the state.





Did you know… there is a geyser on one of Saturn’s moons?

Did you know... there is a geyser on one of Saturn's moons?

And not just one, but over 100 huge water-vapor geysers occur at the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. They are believed to come from an ocean beneath the moon’s outer ice crust in which water comes to the surface through cracks in the ice that are called tiger stripes. Due to Enceladus’ tenuous atmosphere, the water vapor re-freezes and forms ice particles that fall back down to the moon’s surface, covering it in fresh ice that makes Enceladus the brightest object amongst all the planets.

More tantalizing is the scale of geysering. The plumes are the tallest known anywhere in the solar system, rising tens of kilometers above the surface of the moon. They are now known to be the source of Saturn’s E-ring, and the eruptions might be triggered by tidal forces. Remarkably, Enceladus is only about 500 km in diameter. The photographs from the Cassini mission from 2006 to 2017 have provided amazing insights about extraordinary geological activity on this small icy moon.



Geyser plumes on Enceladus (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech).  https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/806/bursting-at-the-seams-the-geyser-basin-of-enceladus/

Enceladus geysers feed Saturn’s E-ring (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech). https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/ghostly-fingers-of-enceladus

Did you know… Pamukkale is a travel HOT spot?

Did you know... Pamukkale is a travel HOT spot?

Pamukkale is a western Turkish town known for the mineral-rich thermal waters that cascade over steep, white terraces that reach over 100 meters (~330 feet) high. Across the terraces, there are a total of 17 hot springs, which range in temperature from 35-100 degrees Celsius (95-212 degrees Fahrenheit) year-round.  The name in Turkish means “cotton castle” as it resembles the cotton plantations in central Turkey.

However, the white terraces are not cotton – they’re travertine rock! Travertine is a form of limestone that is deposited over time by mineral waters, most commonly, hot springs. The mass of hot springs sources in the area produces high amounts of calcium carbonate in the water so when the water hits the open air, it becomes white travertine rock.

Before it was Pamukkale, the site used to be the lively Greco-Roman city Hierapolis. Hierapolis was a spa city founded in 190 BC. Just like today, it was one of Turkey’s most popular hot springs. The ruins of the city are well preserved and hold what is known as Cleopatra’s pool, who is said to have bathed there, along with many other historically famous people.

The hot springs are open to the public to swim and relax in, and they have been known to be great for healing.





Did you know… that Paris has used geothermal energy to heat the homes of more than 2 million people?

Did you know... that Paris has used geothermal energy to heat the homes of more than 2 million people?

You might not think that Paris, the city of love, would be a major producer of geothermal energy – but it is! Paris has been using geothermal energy to heat houses since 1969.

Under the famous city are two deep aquifers containing hot water. Since 1969, Paris has been working on many geothermal projects. Today, there are around fifty supply networks in the city that heat almost 250,000 homes.

The main aquifer, the Dogger, is about 1,500-2,000 meters (~4,900-6,600 feet) deep. The rock that hosts the aquifer is 150-170 million years old and is made of limestone. It has a temperature of about 60 degrees Celsius. While the Dogger is full of mineral salts that make produced water unfit for consumption, the heat can be used for district heating. This geothermal resource supplies energy to buildings in the northern, eastern, and southern parts of Paris, but to the west it falls below a threshold temperature that makes drilling and production uneconomic.

Currently, SIPPEREC (the Paris intercommunal union for energy and communication networks) is exploring the idea of drilling into the Triassic rock layer, which underlies the Dogger at 2,100 meters (~6,870 feet) depth. The temperature of the water at this level is about 80 degrees Celsius – 20 degrees higher than the Dogger. If successful, utilizing the Triassic layer would allow development in the western part of the Paris region but full-scale exploration awaits approval from regulatory authorities and the state.

As of 2020, drilling into the Dogger costs about 5 million euros per well. Of course, drilling deeper costs more, and the cost of drilling into the Triassic layer is about 9 million euros per well. However, because of the hotter water temperature, production here could be cheaper as less water would be required. SIPPEREC says that network users' charge could be lowered as well.

The new heating networks are scheduled for completion in November of this year with the benefit of conserving annual emissions of 30,000 tonnes of CO2.