Nature & Environment Jan 31, 2014

Iceland Creates World’s First ‘Magma-Enhanced’ Geothermal System

Landsvirkjun, Iceland's National Power Company, finds way to supply heat from molten magma.


Iceland has made a breakthrough in the world of geothermal energy by creating the world’s first magma-enhanced geothermal system.


Engineers were surprised when a borehole they were drilling in Krafla, in northeast Iceland, penetrated magma. The borehole was 2100 meters deep, where the temperature is around 900-1000 Celsius. Engineers cemented steel casing, perforated in the bottom section closest to the magma, into the well, allowing the hole to heat slowly. Superheated steam flowed for the next two years, until July 2012, when it was closed down in order to replace some of the surface equipment.

According to Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, “Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world, and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii.”

The borehole is the first in a series of wells being drilled by the IDDP in Iceland in the search for high-temperature geothermal resources.

Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s National Power Company, operates the Krafla power station where the borehole was drilled.

Exciting news – this could lead to a revolution in the energy efficiency of high-temperature geothermal areas worldwide.

Learn more via University of California Riverside.