KRAFLA MAGMA TESTBED

STRATEGY

Bringing the World to a New Age
in Energy Generation and a Closer
Understanding of Magma

of all the hidden places
we’ve not yet explored,
few are as close to us
and as important to us
as magma.

Introduction by
Prof John Ludden

CBE BGS Executive Director

The Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT) will attract the world’s very best energy and volcano scientists and technologists to work in a unique environment. The KMT is a major global challenge – a “moon-shot” for the geosciences.

The Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT) will attract the world’s very best energy and volcano scientists and technologists to work in a unique environment. The KMT is a major global challenge – a “moon-shot” for the geosciences.

Introduction by
John Eichelberger

Professor, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

The KMT is an unprecedented scientific research endeavour with the ambition of establishing the first ever research infrastructure able to access a magma chamber and initiate a 30-year scientific programme for completely new observations and experiments concerning magma dynamics, volcanic risk, and extreme
geothermal energy.

The KMT is an unprecedented scientific research endeavour with the ambition of establishing the first ever research infrastructure able to access a magma chamber and initiate a 30-year scientific programme for completely new observations and experiments concerning magma dynamics, volcanic risk, and extreme
geothermal energy.

THE OPPORTUNITY

Understanding magma is central to understanding the differentiation of planets (basic science), reducing the risk of volcanic disasters (volcano monitoring), and increasing the quantity and efficiency of geothermal energy production.

Crossing the last

unexplored frontier

The current state of volcanology, though sophisticated in many ways, can be compared to studying oil and gas reservoirs by only sampling seeps, or forecasting weather without monitoring the atmosphere.
The ambition is a scientific research venture to drill down into the Earth’s magma-filled crust. The endeavor will enable volcanologists and geothermal scientists to directly sample and observe the previously-uncharted volcanic world that lies beneath our feet.

Objectives and needs

The KMT is founded on urgent scientific, societal, economic and technological needs.

project pillars

Geohazards

Volcanic hazards transcend national boundaries. KMT research will improve how the world reads signs of volcanic unrest. It will improve civil protection for the 800 million people who live within 100 km of an active volcano: be they the millions of Indonesian citizens living under the veil of the archipelago‘s active volcanoes or the millions of tourists visiting America‘s Yellowstone National Park. Volcano monitoring is better when founded on quantifiable, accurate research. By establishing where and under what conditions magma is stored, we can place multiple sensors to provide direct measurements of changes in temperature, gas content, crystallisation and pressure that could signify an eruption.

Planetary science

There is an enormous amount to discover about the physical state of magma chambers. Knowledge of magma currently derives from: interpreting activity measured at the volcano surface, the geology of fossil magma chambers and laboratory experiments. The KMT will unearth direct samples and provide direct observations that will enable competing theories to be tested. Never before has there been a long-term observation of the magmatic system, nor the ability to image it. The KMT will allow us to test and develop models about how the planet works and observe the real properties of the system. Through this, humankind will acquire, and benefit from, a hugely-improved understanding of magma dynamics.

Geothermal energy

For some regions of the world, geothermal is the biggest source of energy. A quarter of Iceland’s electricity demand is already being met by this clean and renewable power. The Krafla drilling project will enhance research on extracting heat directly from magma. Coupled with rapidly-evolving technology in long-distance undersea power transmission, this will dramatically change the economics of geothermal energy, potentially pushing geothermal to become 4% of the world’s energy supply. This would help to alleviate fuel poverty; volcanic ranges and islands could become national and international power factories as the KMT enables science to map where we can use geothermal energy worldwide.

Technology & innovation

The KMT will provide the perfect opportunity for innovation by developing new, qualified and tested technology. It will develop or improve monitoring techniques for volcanology; including real-time calibrations. It will also push drilling and sensor technology to the crust’s high-temperature maximum. This venture will be working at the limits of sensor systems technology, in a dynamic environment encompassing interactions with magma at temperatures of ~900°C and ambient temperatures at the surface. Finally, it will explore the roots of geothermal systems and the potential for direct energy extraction from magma — the ultimate geothermal resource.

Scientific aims

The KMT is an unprecedented international undertaking, the first inner-space mission to explore the most extreme of the Earth’s crustal realms: magma. It will draw on many disciplines of engineering, sensor technology, and geoscience. Now is the time to seize upon the convergence of these multiple fields with this magma testbed. The project will illuminate how magma drives volcanic eruptions, contributes to crustal evolution and releases heat for geothermal energy. What is proposed is more than a drilling project, it is a cluster of coordinated, multidisciplinary efforts encompassing:

International leadership

High quality consortium

An ambitious, cutting-edge project on this scale cannot be a single endeavour by a single nation. It must be a research programme led by a high-level international partnership with multi-national expertise.

creation and management

of the KMT project

Summary of organizations which are leading the creation and
management of the KMT project.

Engagement with local authorities

and community

Geothermal resources have been used in Iceland since the settlement of the Vikings around year 1,000. Space heating of modern houses with geothermal water started in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, in 1930.
Today, 99% of houses in Iceland are heated with renewable energy.

The steps towards the

creation of KMT

The journey to delivering the Krafla Magma Testbed is phased carefully to manage the complexity and risk of the venture. The KMT consortium has planned five vital phases in the delivery process.

Fundraising strategies

The KMT consortium has identified the following potential funding sources to deliver on the ambition:

• Individual partners
• National governments
• Major science-supporting agencies

COLLABORATION MODEL AND

FUNDING NEEDS

Using proven models from other international research collaborations, we will develop a legal entity to oversee and manage the project and its funding sources, providing accountability to the sponsors. We will employ the best proven international legal frameworks, tested by investments such as the Hadron Collider.

Ownership, rights and liabilities

at Krafla

The Krafla Geothermal Power Station was designed and built for the Icelandic State according to act no. 21 from 1974. In 1985 the Icelandic parliament set forward act no. 102/1985 where the government was authorized to sell Krafla power station to Landsvirkjun (LV).

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