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Geothermal exploration in the Fell Sandstone Formation (Mississippian) beneath the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: the Newcastle Science Central Deep Geothermal Borehole

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger, Professor David ManningORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The postulate that geothermal energy might be recoverable from strata laterally equivalent to the Fell Sandstone Formation (Carboniferous: Mississippian) beneath Newcastle upon Tyne has been examined by the drilling and testing of the 1821 m deep Newcastle Science Central Deep Geothermal Borehole. This proved 376.5 m of Fell Sandstone Formation below 1400 m, much of which resembled braided river deposits found at outcrop, although some lower portions were reddened and yielded grains of aeolian affinity. Downhole logging after attainment of thermal equilibrium proved a temperature of 73°C at 1740 m, and allowed estimation of heat flow at about 88 mW m−2. This relatively high value probably reflects deep convective transfer of heat over a distance of >8 km from the North Pennine Batholith, along the Ninety Fathom Fault. The Fell Sandstone traversed by the borehole proved to be of low hydraulic conductivity (c. 7 × 10−5 m d−1). The water that entered the well was highly saline, with a Na–(Ca)–Cl signature similar to other warm waters encountered in the region. It remains for future directional drilling to establish whether sufficient natural fracture permeability can be encountered, or wells stimulated, to support commercial heat production.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Younger PL, Manning DAC, Millward D, Busby JP, Jones CRC, Gluyas JG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology

Year: 2016

Volume: 49

Issue: 4

Pages: 350-363

Print publication date: 01/11/2016

Online publication date: 17/11/2016

Acceptance date: 27/09/2016

Date deposited: 21/02/2017

ISSN (print): 1470-9236

ISSN (electronic): 2041-4803

Publisher: Geological Society of London


DOI: 10.1144/qjegh2016-053


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