Quantification of the subsurface geothermal potential primarily relies on the assessment of the thermal and mechanical configuration of the lithosphere. Such investigations require a detailed knowledge of the geological and tectonic forcing on the regional thermal, stress and hydraulic regimes and their counter feedback mechanisms. This approach becomes even more relevant in complex and active tectonic settings. In this regard, the Sicily region, which is located in the Central-Western Mediterranean, is an exceptional case study due to its almost unexplored geothermal potential hosted in a complex geodynamic setting. The present-day geological configuration resulted from the collision between the African and European plates, which led to the coexistence of compressional phases, beginning with the Oligocene-Miocene clockwise rotation of Corsica-Sardinia and alternated extensional phases in the Tyrrhenian basin due to the southward progression of the Sicilian-Maghrebian chain towards areas of the internal foreland (Hyblean domain). In this study, we attempt a reconstruction of the present-day lithospheric state of Sicily to quantify its thermal regime at shallow and intermediate depths. We have carried out a 3D lithospheric-scale gravity modelling in order to define the main geological units and their lithology-dependent rock properties, then integrated into a 3D geological model consistent with available borehole and seismic datasets. We have used the constructed geological model with its lithology-dependent density, thermal conductivity, and radiogenic heat production to derive the present-day conductive thermal field as a whole and for individual tectonic or geological units, thereby considering different boundary conditions. We have finally validated results of the modelling against a shallow temperature dataset derived from hydrocarbon explorations. Our results indicate that the thermal field at depths shallower than 10 km is largely controlled by variability in sedimentary thickness in the foreland and the orogen, while deeper temperatures are primarily controlled by the distribution of the heat transferred from the mantle together with the radiogenic contribution of the shallow crystalline basement rocks and deeper crustal layers. The thermal modelling portrays a rather heterogenous Moho heat flow, locally higher than 80 mW/m2, revealing a particular geodynamic setting with specific areas characterized by high-to-medium enthalpy geothermal potential. As such, our modelling provides new perspectives for the exploration of geothermal resources in Sicily and helps to better constrain the thermal structure of the complex Sicilian collisional setting.

3D thermal model of Sicily (Southern Italy) and perspectives for new exploration campaigns for geothermal resources

Giovanni Floridia
Primo
;
Marco Viccaro
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

Quantification of the subsurface geothermal potential primarily relies on the assessment of the thermal and mechanical configuration of the lithosphere. Such investigations require a detailed knowledge of the geological and tectonic forcing on the regional thermal, stress and hydraulic regimes and their counter feedback mechanisms. This approach becomes even more relevant in complex and active tectonic settings. In this regard, the Sicily region, which is located in the Central-Western Mediterranean, is an exceptional case study due to its almost unexplored geothermal potential hosted in a complex geodynamic setting. The present-day geological configuration resulted from the collision between the African and European plates, which led to the coexistence of compressional phases, beginning with the Oligocene-Miocene clockwise rotation of Corsica-Sardinia and alternated extensional phases in the Tyrrhenian basin due to the southward progression of the Sicilian-Maghrebian chain towards areas of the internal foreland (Hyblean domain). In this study, we attempt a reconstruction of the present-day lithospheric state of Sicily to quantify its thermal regime at shallow and intermediate depths. We have carried out a 3D lithospheric-scale gravity modelling in order to define the main geological units and their lithology-dependent rock properties, then integrated into a 3D geological model consistent with available borehole and seismic datasets. We have used the constructed geological model with its lithology-dependent density, thermal conductivity, and radiogenic heat production to derive the present-day conductive thermal field as a whole and for individual tectonic or geological units, thereby considering different boundary conditions. We have finally validated results of the modelling against a shallow temperature dataset derived from hydrocarbon explorations. Our results indicate that the thermal field at depths shallower than 10 km is largely controlled by variability in sedimentary thickness in the foreland and the orogen, while deeper temperatures are primarily controlled by the distribution of the heat transferred from the mantle together with the radiogenic contribution of the shallow crystalline basement rocks and deeper crustal layers. The thermal modelling portrays a rather heterogenous Moho heat flow, locally higher than 80 mW/m2, revealing a particular geodynamic setting with specific areas characterized by high-to-medium enthalpy geothermal potential. As such, our modelling provides new perspectives for the exploration of geothermal resources in Sicily and helps to better constrain the thermal structure of the complex Sicilian collisional setting.
Complex collisional setting, Geothermal exploration, Gravity modelling, Lithospheric model, Thermal modelling
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/541064
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