Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

How Hot is it Underground?

Grade Level:

Activity Overview: Natural resources are not evenly distributed across the United States or even across the State of Texas. Looking at the horizon you can see if you are near the sea or surrounded by timber, but other resources crucial to our daily lives are less obvious. Each of the activities on this page references a different resource and provides resources your class can use to identify different sources of freshwater, fossil fuels, and renewable resources.

Time: This activity is part of a series on maps of natural resources. Each one takes about 15 minutes. You can schedule them in series or you can evaluate them as you discuss each resource in your class.

Procedure:

Though geothermal resources lie beneath all of the United States, they are less difficult to reach near active faults. The Mountain West, populated with active faults and tectonic activity, has the highest underground temperatures near the surface. Thus, it shows most of the installed capacity for geothermal. Some pockets in the Gulf of Mexico region and the areas around oil and gas production also feature high subterranean temperatures with relatively easy access. 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory collected information about U.S. geothermal power plants, geothermal resource potential, and geothermal power generation. The different maps are available individually from the Geothermal Maps collection. They have also published a Geothermal Prospector tool.

Change the map view from Data Layers to Legend by using the buttons at the top of the left column of the Select and Query Data Options. You can also investigate a specific point or a region by using the Query button.

Ask students to answer the following questions:

  • Which Deep Enhanced Geothermal Potential class is not available in Texas? [Class 1]
  • Which region of the United States has the best Deep Enhanced Geothermal Potential? [Mountain West or West]
  • Which region of the United States has the worst Deep Enhanced Geothermal Potential? [Great Lakes or Northeast or Mid-Atlantic]
  • Which state has the most reliable Deep Enhanced Geothermal Potential?
    • Minnesota
    • Ohio
    • Florida
    • Nevada
  • Does Seattle or Salt Lake City have a better Deep Enhanced Geothermal Potential? [Salt Lake City]

TEKS

SS.6.6B, SS.6.3C

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