Geothermal Resources in B.C.

British Columbia is situated on the Pacific Ocean “Ring of Fire” and has several volcanic regions conducive to geothermal energy. Many geothermal resources have been identified.

Information about geothermal heat flows in B.C. come from oil and gas well data, mining bore holes, mapping of young volcanoes, and the sampling of over 60 hot springs throughout the province.

Geothermal Resource Map

  • A scan of a printed summary map, published in 1992, highlighting the most promising geothermal resources in British Columbia. Geothermal Resource Map (PDF 12.6Mb)

High-Temperature (above 80 degrees C) Geothermal Resources
There are three belts of young volcanic rocks and all have known hot springs. These geothermal resources have potential to be used for electrical generation, depending on depth, temperature and flow. There may be other areas that have not been discovered.

Garibaldi Volcanic Belt

  • 32 volcanic centres
  • Mt. Garibaldi, Mt. Meager, Mt. Cayley
  • the most recent activity was 2,500 years ago – vent on Mt. Meager
  • a number of hot springs, ranging up to 60 degrees Celsius

Anahim Belt

  • East-west fracture zone along an extension of the northern boundary of the Juan de Fuca plate
  • Knight’s Inlet 

Stikine

  • much of this belt is in Parks or Protected Areas, remote from transmission lines

Low-Medium Temperature Geothermal Resources (< 80 degrees C)
In theory, they can be found anywhere. The deeper a well goes, the higher the temperature of the fluids found. These geothermal resources can be extracted for a broad range of direct-use applications (i.e. heat exchanges and/or heat pumps). 

Electricity and Direct Use Locations

Geothermal reservoirs, close enough to the surface to be reached by drilling, occur in places where geologic processes have allowed magma to rise up near the surface, or where it flows out as lava. The crust of the earth is made up of huge plates, which are in constant but very slow motion relative to one another.

Magma can reach near the surface in three main geologic areas: 

  1. Subduction zone. Where earth's large oceanic and crustal plates collide and one slides beneath another. The best example of hot regions around plate margins is the Ring of Fire which includes B.C.
  2. Spreading centers. Places where these plates are sliding apart, such as Iceland.
  3. Hot spots. Fixed points in the mantle continually produce magma to the surface. As the plate continually moves across the hot spot, strings of volcanoes are formed, such as the chain of Hawaiian Islands. 

GeoExchange Locations

GeoExchange systems can be used anywhere in B.C. Unlike other kinds of geothermal heat, shallow ground temperatures are not dependent upon tectonic plate activity or other unique geologic processes. Thus, geothermal heat pumps can be used to help heat and cool homes anywhere.