Dixie Valley Geothermal Field

The Dixie Valley Caithness plant is the largest single geothermal power generating facility in Nevada. It is located in the northern end of Dixie Valley about 100 km northeast of Fallon, Nevada.

Unlike many other active geothermal areas, hot springs are not present at the site. Two main fumaroles, the Senator Fumaroles, were the only surface indication of subsurface geothermal activity in the area; there were small volumes of steam with some hydrogen sulfide emitted from the vents, and sinter (evaporative deposits) occurs about 5 km southwest of the fumaroles. Cinnabar, sulfur, and pyrite were found deposited around the Senator Fumaroles in 1968.

Geothermal exploration activity in Dixie Valley began in the 1980s, and a power plant was constructed at the site in 1988. It produces 66 MW of electricity from a geothermal resource of 250C at depths from 2,400 to 3,050 m. The production zone at 2-3 km depth is believed to be related to highly permeable fractures along the Dixie Valley fault, the major range-bounding fault on the west margin of Dixie Valley. The plant was purchased from Oxbow Geothermal Corporation in 2000. A pilot study has shown that high-quality silica can be extracted from the geothermal fluid. This process could both reduce silica scaling and produce a valuable mineral product.

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