Development of in-aquifer heat testing for high resolution subsurface thermal-storage capability characterisation

Klodwig Suibert Oskar Seibertz, Marian Andrei Chirila, Jan Bumberger, Peter Dietrich, Thomas Vienken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The ongoing transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy source provision has resulted in increased geothermal uses as well as storage of the shallow subsurface. Existing approaches for exploration of shallow subsurface geothermal energy storage often lack the ability to provide information concerning the spatial variability of thermal storage parameters. However, parameter distributions have to be known to ensure that sustainable geothermal use of the shallow subsurface can take place - especially when it is subject to intensive usage. In this paper, we test a temperature decay time approach to obtain in situ, direct, qualitative, spatial high-resolution information about the distribution of thermal storage capabilities of the shallow subsurface. To achieve this, temperature data from a high-resolution Fibre-Optic-Distributed-Temperature-Sensing device, as well as data from conventional Pt100-temperature-sensors were collected during a heat injection test. The latter test was used to measure the decay time of temperature signal dissipation of the subsurface. Signal generation was provided by in-aquifer heating with a temperature self-regulating electric heating cable. Heating was carried out for 4.5days. After this, a cooling period of 1.5weeks was observed. Temperature dissipation data was also compared to Direct-Push-derived high-resolution (hydro-)geological data. The results show that besides hydraulic properties also the bedding and compaction state of the sediment have an impact on the thermal storage capability of the saturated subsurface. The temperature decay time approach is therefore a reliable method for obtaining information regarding the qualitative heat storage capability of heterogeneous aquifers for the use with closed loop system geothermal storage systems. Furthermore, this approach is advantageous over other commonly used methods, e.g. soil-sampling and laboratory analysis, as even small changes in (hydro-)geological properties lead to strong variances in observed heat-storage capabilities at the investigated case study site. By using fibre-optic-thermometers, nearly every requested spatial resolution can be achieved and easily be adjusted to the needs of actual test sites for shallow geothermal storage exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct-push in situ investigations
  • Distributed-temperature-sensing
  • Shallow geothermal exploration
  • Shallow subsurface thermal-storage


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