How to Create a Well Log for Use in Geothermal Bore Field Design

This page authored by Kevin Amende, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, Montana State University, based on a well log created by Forrest Berg, Montana State University.
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This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.


In this lab activity, students will visit a local site where geothermal bores are currently being drilled. Drilling professionals will provide an overview of the equipment being used to drill, load the heat exchanger pipe, and grout the bore hole. Soils samples will be collected at different depths by the students and drilling contractor. Working in collaboration with geoscience faculty and student, mechanical engineering students will learn how to classify soils and generate well logs. Students will then apply this information to geothermal bore field design.

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Learning Goals

Engineering students should gain at least a basic understanding of soil classification and how well logs are created at a given bore site. Understanding the relationship between different soils and their thermal characteristics will be demonstrated through model development in geothermal bore fields. Technical writing and soil classification skills will be developed by this activity. Engineering students will learn about sustainability and geoscience through this activity in the form of generating geothermal bore field designs used in the heating and cooling of buildings. This technology is already widely used in Europe and is gaining more traction in the United States as a renewable energy source which produces less carbon emissions that fossil fuels.

Context for Use

This material could be integrated into a variety of educational levels based on the science and engineering activities specified in this lab exercise. This activity would require time to visit a drilling site, instructional time to explain the different drilling types, and lab time to classify soil samples for a bore hole. Upper level college courses would typically be required to integrate the well log information into geothermal bore field design.

Description and Teaching Materials

I am in the process of generating materials for this activity. The attached file is a sample of a well log generated by a civil engineer, not a geologist. I intend to work closely with our geoscience faculty to develop a lecture/lab module where both mechanical engineering and geology students will work together to learn about soil classification processes and how they relate to geothermal bore field design. Ecosmart House Well Log Report (Acrobat (PDF) 1.5MB Feb22 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity is still being developed.


References and Resources