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Kootenay Lake Geothermal Project - Phase Two

Lead Researcher(s):  G. McMahon

Key Researcher(s):  D. Gatto

Project ID:  2022-004

Key Research Organization(s):  South Kootenay Lake Community Services Society

Project Location:  Southeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Energy-Geothermal


Geoscience BC is supporting the second phase of research through Selkirk College in partnership with University of Victoria to characterize hot spring occurrences in the Kootenay Lake area of British Columbia’s Southeast region, and to assess their potential as a direct-use geothermal resource (using hot water to, for example, heat buildings or for industrial processes).

The study is taking place between two deeply rooted faults (preferential pathways for hot geothermal fluids to flow) that date to the Eocene that are associated with nearby hot springs. The Dewar Creek hot spring has the hottest measured surface temperature in BC (82°C) and data for the Ainsworth Hot Springs suggest a maximum temperature at depth of 165°C.

A detailed evaluation of the area’s geology indicates that the east shore of Kootenay Lake is ideally situated to test the feasibility of developing a geothermal resource.

The Need

As Canada transitions to clean energy resources, there is a need to better understand the potential for the province’s geothermal regions to be developed as assets that can provide heat or energy sources. This project will help to understand the geothermal potential in the Kootenay Lake area.

Project Goals

This Energy project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of Identifying new natural resource opportunities. Its goal is to:

  • Continue geothermal resource mapping and research focusing on economically viable projects and sites with high geothermal energy potential.
  • Develop a hydrogeological model that supports the evidentiary geology and structure of the area as well as advance our understanding of the geothermal processes at work in the Kootenay Lake area.

Geoscience BC is funding geochemical analyses of surface water samples. The project is also funded by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Colleges and Institutes Canada and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada – NSERC.

With phase one complete, phase two has the potential for further work, including test drilling. The current phase aims to:

  • Utilize geospatial and remote sensing technologies to gather on the study area in Crawford Creek;
  • Process and map geospatial data and identify geologic features;
  • Assess further evidence of a fault/fracture based geothermal flow model and the potential of encountering hot, near-surface geothermal water;
  • Construct stereonet ‘beach-ball’ projections and create a 3D fracture model for the areas of interest;
  • Characterize subsurface geothermal reservoirs leading to the development of a hydrogeological model that will highlight potential geothermal fluid flow pathways which will permit high-grading of prospective target areas for drilling and testing in a future phase;
  • Assess water chemistry and mineralogy through field and laboratory analysis;
  • Conduct drone-based geophysical surveys;
  • Deliver site specific data, high-grading of a prospective target, hopefully with enough confirmatory evidence to support a case for drilling at least one test well in the future; and
  • Conduct community engagement, building on previous activities, to solicit community feedback and support.

Project Benefits

The first project stage with Selkirk College was to compile all available public domain open-file data, was part of a separate project not funded by Geoscience BC, and is included in the Deliverables section for context.

The second stage is mapping the surface and near-surface geothermal properties for the target areas and aims to verify open fault/fracture sets that support active movement of geothermal fluids. This, along with the gathering of geochemical data across the project area, will assist in the construction of a local, hydrogeological model for geothermal water in the area. This in turn can facilitate decisions regarding refined objectives and drill targets for a future phase.

Survey Area

The research will be conducted on the eastern side of Kootenay Lake, in the area around Crawford Bay, in BC’s Southeast Region. The research is taking place in the territory of the Ktunaxa Nation.

Geoscience BC encourages anyone planning exploration work to first contact Indigenous groups in the area. The Province of British Columbia’s Consultative Areas Database can help with this (https://maps.gov.bc.ca/ess/hm/cadb/). The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) also produces an Indigenous Engagement Guidebook.


  • Technical Articles

    • Phase One Geothermal Interpretation Report FINAL (PDF, 27.7 Mb)
      • This first phase of research summarized existing research in the area to build a well-documented case for the location of a Kootenay Lake geothermal resource. It was supported by the Regional District of Central Kootenay with participation by Selkirk College and further funding support from Mitacs. It was not funded by Geoscience BC and is included here for context only.