Partner Spotlight – UUSS

University of Utah Seismograph Stations - UUSS

Reducing the risk from earthquakes in Utah through research, education, and public service.

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) maintains and operates a combined urban and regional seismic network throughout the State of Utah and a regional seismic network in Yellowstone National Park. UUSS monitors seismicity in these regions by providing earthquake locations and magnitudes. The monitoring in Utah is part of a state-federal partnership with the U. S. Geological Survey Advanced National Seismic System. Monitoring in Yellowstone is done as part of the U. S. Geological Survey Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

In addition to regional monitoring, UUSS is building, maintaining, and operating a seismic network local to Utah FORGE. The primary goal of this network is seismic hazard monitoring. The complete network will consist of six stations located on the surface in carefully designed vaults, six stations in shallow boreholes, one deeper borehole, and three accelerometers located close to structures. Data from these instruments are sent back to UUSS in real-time. Once all stations are installed, over 2 GB of data will be collected and processed each day.

This data feeds into an automatic processing system that detects and locates earthquakes. For larger earthquakes, maps of ground shaking are generated, and alarms are sent for rapid review to seismologists who are on call 24 hours a day. All earthquakes are reviewed by seismic analysts and posted to the web.

To complement the local network, UUSS has deployed dense arrays of temporary geophones at times of stimulation to help better constrain the background seismicity and seismic velocity structure. The data from these deployments contributes to special studies. In one study, UUSS mapped the shallow shear-wave velocity structure of Utah FORGE and the surrounding area, and in another study, new algorithms were developed for detecting very small magnitude events from the stimulation process.


Find out more about other Utah FORGE team and partners HERE

Partner Spotlight — Geo-Energie Suisse

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Geo-Energie Suisse AG (GES) is a Swiss company focused on deep geothermal energy for electricity and heat production. The founding members include municipal utilities and regional energy supply companies from all over Switzerland. Geo-Energie Suisse employs ten people, and it is also supported by numerous external specialists.

The company aims to develop deep EGS projects in crystalline rocks through the use of multi-stage stimulation to increase the permeability of the rock while reducing the seismic risk. Haute-Sorne is the company’s most advanced project in Switzerland. Its setting shows many similarities with the Utah FORGE project, which makes the collaboration with the University of Utah-based team particularly exciting.

Geo-Energie Suisse core competencies reside in seismic risk assessments, seismic monitoring and real time seismic data processing and evaluation. At Utah FORGE, GES intends to test and validate new methods and downhole instruments and bring them to the next level of innovation. GES is also assisting in the design of the seismic monitoring program, as well as conducting numerical analyses of the seismic data.

The figure shows the results of resolution and sensitivity numerical modelling performed by GES to assess the optimal configuration of monitoring boreholes and sensors at Utah FORGE. Section-view (left) and map-view (right) of the monitoring boreholes and the first of two deep, highly deviated wells (16A(78)-32) that will be used to create the reservoir.

At the end of 2020, Geo-Energie Suisse succeeded in obtaining technical proof of its multi-stage stimulation concept. The successful demonstration took place in the Bedretto Underground laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergy of the ETH Zurich in the Swiss Alps. Innovative sensors, measurement and control techniques were tested for the first time and enabled the observation and control of the hydraulic stimulations. These techniques increase safety when creating geothermal reservoirs in crystalline rock. In addition, a seismicity forecasting method, developed by ETH Zurich, was also successfully implemented in the demonstration project. GES will now validate the findings gained in the Bedretto Laboratory at the Utah FORGE test site in the high-temperature range.

This figure shows the spatial distribution of the microseismicity that occurred in 10 temporally staggered intervals and spatially isolated stimulation zones leading to permanent microcracks in the granite rock.

The stimulations were carried out by Geo-Energie Suisse AG in the Bedretto Laboratory of ETH Zurich in November and December 2020. © Geo-Energie Suisse. More pictures and videos here

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy supports the deep geothermal project in Haute-Sorne and especially the innovations that will substantially reduce the risk of induced seismicity for deep EGS projects. The Swiss, Utah FORGE and the international geothermal industry will be well served by such improvements in safety and the success of future EGS projects. (French/German)

Partner Spotlight – Itasca

Itasca Consulting Group Inc. is a global, employee-owned, engineering consulting and software firm, focusing on geomechanical and hydrogeological projects.

3DEC model of a geothermal site showing shear displacements along existing fractures and synthetic (predicted) microseismicity.


Led by Principal Engineer Dr. Branko Damjanac, the team brings deep experience in solving complex problems in mining, civil, energy, and materials engineering and is excited to be collaborating with Utah FORGE.

Itasca's consultants solve complex problems in mining, civil, energy, and materials engineering. The company combines practical engineering and field experience with expert knowledge of advanced numerical simulation and analysis. Itasca’s software (3DEC, FLAC, FLAC3D, Griddle, MINEDW, PFC, UDEC, and XSite) are highly respected and widely used. For geothermal engineering, Itasca provides analysis using advanced numerical modeling tools for predicting the evolution of fractures, thermal and stress changes, and induced microseismicity.

Itasca combines practical engineering and field experience with expert knowledge of advanced numerical simulation and analysis.

  • Full-physics stimulation sensitivity numerical 2d and 3D modeling
  • Stimulation scenario development and evaluation
  • Stimulation plan preparation
  • Discrete stimulation numerical modeling
  • Production coupled Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical numerical modeling
  • Experiment evaluation and verification

XSite model of fracture growth from five perforation clusters sequentially stimulated, showing stress interference between the fractures. The plot shows fracture apertures. The insert shows the histories of injection pressures during the simulation.

Partner Spotlight – Jim Rutledge

Jim Rutledge is part of the Utah FORGE seismic monitoring team lead by Dr. Kristine Pankow at the University of Utah. He brings to the Team an expertise in downhole seismic instrumentation and the monitoring of reservoir microseismicity induced during injection stimulations.

An Enhanced Geothermal reservoir is created and or enhanced through a series of high-pressure injections to fracture, stimulate and connect natural fractures in the host rock. Such a fracture system provides the permeability and surface area required to circulate fluids for mining the earth’s heat. Detecting and locating the resulting microseismicity is the chief diagnostic used to map and monitor the development of that fracture system. In addition to obtaining the basic geometry of the stimulated fracture volume and its temporal growth, geomechanical information can be gleaned from source mechanism results, describing the fracture orientation and sense of displacement that generated the seismic signal.

Jim was employed as an Industry Advisor with Schlumberger’s Microseismic Services for the last 8 years before recently partnering with the FORGE team. At Schlumberger he worked primarily on the interpretation of moment tensor inversion in understanding the basic relationship between fracture propagation and generation of the microseismic signal. He spent most of his career, from 1984 to 2012, as a staff seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. From 2004 to 2012 he also worked as a consultant for Schlumberger Cambridge Research. He received a BS in Geology from Pennsylvania State University and an MS in Geophysics from the University of Arizona. Starting in 1989, Jim has led and participated in several studies that demonstrated the uses of microseismic monitoring in oil, gas and geothermal fields for various applications including: hydraulic fracture monitoring, EOR monitoring, production-induced seismicity, subsidence and well-failure problems, gas storage, as well as subsurface CO2 sequestration. He is widely published on the topic of downhole seismic monitoring and interpretation.

An example of microseismic source locations from numerous injection stimulation stages in map view (left) and the population of source mechanisms for the stage 7 events (right). The lateral completion well is shown red.

Partner Spotlight – GRG

Geothermal Resource Group (GRG) is a geothermal resource and engineering consulting company that has provided consulting engineering and on-site management services in over 16 countries and at over 95 geothermal development projects worldwide. They have been a partner in the FORGE Utah project since the beginning, providing technical and design advice, and planning and supervision in the drilling of all deep wells, including 58-32, 68-32 and 78-32. They are currently working on the design of the first deep deviated well which will commence later this year.

GRG plays a critical role in the management, organization and running of a range of pre- and post-drilling and stimulation activities to ensure that project managers, contractors, and researchers are well informed of scheduling and onsite activities. A key goal is to ensure that everyone involved is fully briefed on the operations so that all tasks are executed to the highest professional and technical standard an in a timely manner that keep the project on schedule and within budget.

In Phase 3, GRG is working within the drilling team to specify the materials needed for the planned deep, highly deviated, injection well that represents one of the pillars of the Utah FORGE research facility. This involves many considerations that are not typical to conventional geothermal wells. In addition, specifications are being prepared for the drilling of additional seismic monitoring holes, as are plans for supervision of field activities later this year.

GRG’s involvement with Utah FORGE is led by Principal Drilling Engineer Bill Rickard, Senior Engineer Ernesto Rivas, and Geologist Mary Mann. GRG brings with them many decades of cutting edge expertise hard granite drilling technology, and they were instrumental in the drilling and completion of deep wells at Newberry and Raft River. GRG is excited to be a part of the Utah FORGE project and looks forward to ensuring continued drilling successes.


Renowned for technical excellence, Golder is a leading, global employee-owned engineering and consulting firm with over a half century of successful service to its clients. With over 165 offices, Golder’s 7,500 professionals are driven by a passion to deliver results, offering unique specialized skills to address the ever-evolving challenges that earth, environment and energy present to clients across the infrastructure, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing and power sectors.

Golder’s contribution to FORGE has been to use our FracMan® software to analyze data from a test well to develop a model of the fractures in the target rock mass. The test well yielded data on the natural fractures that exist in the rock mass, and the hydraulic properties of those fractures. The rock surrounding the wells at the appropriate depth will be subjected to hydraulic fracturing to improve the fluid-carrying ability of the natural fractures. The models developed by Golder are being used to predict how the reservoir rock will respond to hydraulic fracturing and to simulate the long-term thermal response of the site. Over the course of the FORGE program, Golder will continue supporting teams of researchers using a variety of technologies to develop viable, commercially feasible solutions for geothermal energy.

Click here to read more about Golder’s work with FORGE



INL and Modeling Research for the Utah FORGE Project

The Idaho National Laboratory has joined the Utah FORGE project at the downselect of the Milford, Utah site as the DOE's FORGE laboratory choice location.

The modeling team from INL headed by Dr. Robert Podgorney has been on the forefront of constructing an earth model for the project

Read more HERE

Professor Ahmad Ghassemi

Professor Ahmad Ghassemi represents the University of Oklahoma as a Utah FORGE partner. He leads the Reservoir Geomechanics and Seismicity Research (RGSR) Group, which investigates reservoir geomechanics in geothermal and petroleum systems. He is part of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma (OU), which is rated among the top petroleum engineering programs in the nation, and it has had a large impact in research and development since the late 1980’s. Today, the program is recognized for its world-class experimental and numerical modeling infrastructures, which has important applications for geothermal research and development of EGS-type reservoirs.

Professor Ghassemi’s group focuses on understanding the dynamics of reservoir rocks and fracture networks in response to hydraulic, poroelastic, thermal, and chemical stimulations. The aim of this work is to facilitate economic production of the nation's vast geothermal resources through development of effective completions and stimulation techniques. Active topics of research include:

  • Stimulation Optimization using Geologic and Geomechanics Principles
  • Modeling Fracture Clusters in Geothermal Reservoirs
  • Geomechanics-Based Stochastic Analysis of Injection-Induced Seismicity
  • Variation of In-situ Stress, and Fracture Slip in Response to Injection/Production
  • Optimum Wellbore Trajectory and Wellbore Stability Analysis
  • Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Coupled Poro-thermo-chemo-mechanical Analysis of Fracture Permeability

This research is conducted in partnership with the geothermal industry, and in collaboration with the National Laboratories.

Professor Ghassemi’s research at Utah FORGE addresses reservoir characterization, hydraulic fracturing design, diagnostic fracture induced testing (DFIT) in fracture rock, and other stress in-situ stress determination methods. In addition to providing experimental expertise to assess rock and fracture characteristics, and the potential impact of shear and mixed-mode stimulation, we contribute to stimulation design optimization using the GeoFrac family of thermo-poromechanical hydraulic fracturing and fracture network models that have been developed for large-scale studies.  The 2D version of GeoFrac considers rock anisotropy and natural fractures including their slip and propagation to form a network. The 3D version called GeoFeac3D incorporates rock heterogeneity and non-linearity, allows for poroelasticity, thermoelasticity, and mixed-mode propagation, and can be used to model multiple hydraulic fractures involving proppant transport and heat extraction. These will be used to help future stimulation design at FORGE.

The RGSR group has a world-class rock mechanics facility consisting of a number of MTS Material Testing Systems, 3 Polyaxial Testing units, 1 TTK Triaxial Test System, 1 Creep Test System, 1 API Fracturing Conductivity Test System, 3D laser Scanning System, etc. In addition to conventional rock mechanics testing such as uniaxial/triaxial compressive, static/dynamic, tensile strength, AE monitoring, hardness, fracture conductivity,  advanced/novel rock mechanics tests are used to evaluate large-scale hydraulic fracturing under true triaxial conditions, tracer performance, high temperature and high pressure effects, triaxial shear, direct shear, and fracture propagation and coalescence.  Currently, there are nine graduate students and two post-docs involved in the modeling and experimental work in the group.