Dr. Bridget Ayling

Dr. Bridget Ayling is the capability lead for reservoir strategy at Contact Energy Ltd, based in Wairākei. She recently joined Contact after 7 years working in the western USA where she served as Director of the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and as an Associate Professor in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at UNR. In these roles, Dr. Ayling was responsible for developing research and education programs in the field of geothermal energy, leading research to understand the complexities of fluid flow in the upper crust and the implications of this for geothermal resource exploration and development, managing the public dissemination of geothermal datasets for the state of Nevada, and administering the National Geothermal Academy training program. Prior to joining UNR in 2016, she worked at Geoscience Australia, the Australian Government’s geoscience agency, and the Energy and Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah. She has served on the Board of Directors for Geothermal Rising (formerly the Geothermal Resources Council) and the International Geothermal Association, and on the Earth Resources Standing Committee for the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She is also a proud advocate and member of Women in Geothermal (WING) – a global organization that exists to support the professional development and empowerment of women in the geothermal sector. Dr. Ayling holds a B.S. with honors in geology and physical geography from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and a Ph.D. in paleoclimate and environmental geochemistry from the Australian National University.



Recent advances in regional-scale geothermal exploration and resource evaluation to unlock hydrothermal potential in the Great Basin region, western USA and beyond.

The Great Basin region in the western USA is a world-class geothermal province, with ~1,200 MWe current installed geothermal capacity and an estimated hydrothermal resource potential of at least several GWe. One of the barriers associated with realizing this potential is the exploration risk associated with the discovery of new hidden and ‘blind’ geothermal systems. Additionally, hydrothermal systems in this region are typically structurally controlled, with relatively focused areas of permeability for fluid upflow and outflow that can make it challenging to accurately locate the ‘sweet-spot’ for successful production drilling. Research conducted at the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at the University of Nevada-Reno over the last several years has aimed to address these exploration risks, through collaborative projects focused on: (1) Application of new technologies to reservoir characterization and mapping (e.g., hyperspectral core imaging); (2) Developing refined 3D and conceptual models of Great Basin geothermal systems; (3) Application of geothermal play fairway (PF) analysis to map regional potential (in the Great Basin and beyond, e.g., South America); (4) Integrating Machine Learning (ML) approaches into PF workflows; (5) Evaluating value-of-information (VOI) approaches to support drill targeting and exploration decision-making; (6) Regional data compilation and analysis, and (7) Developing integrated, comprehensive workflows for predictive resource mapping and evaluation to accelerate discoveries of new, commercially-viable geothermal systems (e.g., the INGENIOUS project). In this talk, I’ll briefly review some of these projects and research highlights, and the opportunities for application to other regions.