The Earth generates and stores heat known as geothermal energy. Sometimes, this renewable energy resource can be utilized in a number of ways to provide heat and electricity. When successfully implemented, geothermal energy produces low emissions, and can often operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Below the Earth’s crust are layers of hot molten rock and magma. Heat is continually produced in these layers, mainly from the decay of naturally radioactive materials such as uranium and potassium. In some locations fractures in the Earth’s crust allow heated fluids to rise closer to the Earth’s surface than normal, forming an area of elevated ground temperatures. These areas can be tapped to harness geothermal energy. In some cases the heated water can appear at the surface through geyser’s and hot springs. Geothermal energy is utilized in three primary categories, electrical generation, direct use, and tourism.
Tourism is the primary use of geothermal energy in Wyoming. Geothermal features draw hundreds of thousands of tourists to Wyoming each year, allowing them to enjoy thermal springs in the state, primarily in Yellowstone National Park and Hot Springs State Park located in Thermopolis. Direct use of geothermal energy is also harnessed as a means to heat buildings, water, and roadways in some areas of the state.
The WSGS has a variety of publications related to thermal springs and geothermal data in Wyoming. Digital reports and maps are listing below. Other Wyoming related geothermal data, including bottom hole temperatures are available via the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS).