Application of Finite Element Techniques to Heat Flow Investigations within Sedimentary Basins

  • Allan D. Woodbury
  • Leslie Smith
Conference paper


A proper understanding of the thermal regime of the earth’s crust is essential in many Geo-Science studies. Such studies include global tectonics, investigations of low and high temperature geothermal environments, oil maturation and earthquake research. The basic approach to investigate thermal conditions at depth is to measure temperature gradients in shallow boreholes, which when combined with measurements of the thermal conductivity, provide estimates of surface heat flow. In areas of low relief with low permeability rocks at the surface, temperature fields are essentially conductive. However, there is ample evidence to show that the thermal regime of basins with high relief, infilled with permeable sediments, can be highly influenced by circulating groundwater (see review by Smith and Chapman, 1983). In these cases, interpretation of surface heat flow values in terms of thermal conditions at depth cannot be carried out without a complete understanding of the coupled thermal-hydrogeologic system.


Heat Flow Finite Element Technique Surface Heat Flow Conductive Heat Flux Freshwater Head 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan D. Woodbury
    • 1
  • Leslie Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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