Aarhus Universitets segl

Krafla Magma Drilling Project

ESP represented in magma drilling project.

The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) was founded in 2000 by a consortium of Icelandic energy companies.  The main purpose of IDDP is to assess the economic feasibility of using supercritical hydrothermal systems as an energy source. The consortium began by preparing the drilling of a 4-5 km deep drill hole into one of its high-temperature hydrothermal system in order to reach 400-600°C hot supercritical hydrous fluid at a rifted plate margin along the mid-ocean ridge.


The scientific program was funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) and resulted in approximately 60 research proposals from the international scientific community, more than half of which required drill core samples. Project proposals ranged from petrology and petrophysics to fluid chemistry, water rock reactions, surface and borehole geophysics and reservoir modeling.


While drilling to magma has for decades been a lofty but elusive goal, in 2009, during the first full scale IDDP-1, molten rock was penetrated at 2100 m depth under Krafla Caldera! Chips of quenched glass and variably crystallized magma were recovered, although the spatial relationships of these lithologies could not be answered because the drilling was not designed for this purpose. The drilling operation was terminated by late June as quenched obsidian glass plugged the lowest 20 m of the hole, but the possibility exists to return to this magmatic intrusion, where uniquely the position of the target and drilling conditions are already known.


The Krafla Magma Drilling Project (KMDP) will define characteristics of “magma geothermal”, perhaps an order of magnitude more powerful than conventional geothermal, and understand intra-caldera intrusions, the main source of caldera unrest. High-temperature engineering, core and fluid studies, borehole measurements, plus surface geophysical and geochemical observations to measure responses to flow and injection experiments will be included.


A workshop to formulate KMDP was held September 15-19, 2014 at Landsvirkjun Company at Krafla. Eric Brown, represented the ESP group


The project has been supported financially by the initial consortium ((Hitaveita Sudurnesja (HS) (since 2008: HS Orka hf), Landsvirkjun (LV) and Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR)), and Orkustofnun (OS), the National Energy Authority of Iceland.), the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alcoa Inc, an international aluminum company, and StatoilHydro ASA (now Statoil), a Norwegian oil company.


See a video about the project.