Ms Irene Clare Wallis

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Irene is returning to university from the geothermal industry to complete her PhD. Technology transfer and interdisciplinary collaboration underpin her research interests.

Research | Current

Doctoral Project: Conceptual Models of Permeability in High-Enthalpy, Volcanic Hosted Geothermal Systems

Geothermal power generation relies on a fluid extracting heat energy stored in rock. That fluid must be produced reliability in sufficient quantities to generate electricity, and that production depends on encountering sufficient rock permeability with a well. Consequently, locating permeability, along with benign chemistry and high-temperature, is central to determining if a natural geothermal resource is suitable for energy development.

Irene's doctoral project focuses on naturally convecting, high-enthalpy geothermal systems and asks why wells drilled in these environments encounter only a handful of zones (or in some cases none) that will flow. In essence, why is the economic permeability in one place but not another? 

The question will be investigated using high-fidelity case studies using geothermal well data kindly provided by industry partners. Conceptual models for flowing and non-flowing zones are developed using these case studies and then sense-checked with numerical models (TOUGH2). Finally, the uncertainty associated with propagating these conceptual models into the wider geothermal resource will be explored. 

Irene's project is supervised by Dr Julie (JR) Rowland (School of Environment) and Dr David Dempsey (School of Engineering Science).

Baker Hughes has kindly provided JewelSuite GeoMechanics software for this project. 

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • McNamara, D. D., Sewell, S., Buscarlet, E., & Wallis, I. C. (2016). A review of the Rotokawa Geothermal Field, New Zealand. Geothermics, 59, 281-293. 10.1016/j.geothermics.2015.07.007
  • Chambefort, I., Buscarlet, E., Wallis, I. C., Sewell, S., & Wilmarth, M. (2016). Ngatamariki Geothermal Field, New Zealand: Geology, geophysics, chemistry and conceptual model. Geothermics, 59, 266-280. 10.1016/j.geothermics.2015.07.011
  • Sherburn, S., Sewell, S. M., Bourguignon, S., Cumming, W., Bannister, S., Bardsley, C., ... Wallis, I. C. (2015). Microseismicity at Rotokawa geothermal field, New Zealand, 2008–2012. Geothermics, 54, 23-34. 10.1016/j.geothermics.2014.11.001
  • McNamara, D. D., Massiot, C., Lewis, B., & Wallis, I. C. (2015). Heterogeneity of structure and stress in the Rotokawa Geothermal Field, New Zealand. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 120 (2), 1243-1262. 10.1002/2014JB011480
  • Wyering, L. D., Villeneuve, M. C., Wallis, I. C., Siratovich, P. A., Kennedy, B. M., Gravley, D. M., & Cant, J. L. (2014). Mechanical and physical properties of hydrothermally altered rocks, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 288, 76-93. 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2014.10.008


Contact details

Alternative contact

Phone/WhatsApp +64 274412194

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 5, Room 539
New Zealand

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