string(19) "[Energy-Geothermal]"

Kootenay Lake Geothermal Project - Phase Three

Lead Researcher(s):  G. MacMahon

Key Researcher(s):  D. Gatto, S. Greene

Project ID:  2023-002

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

Project Location:  Southeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Energy-Geothermal


This is the third phase of a project to advance understanding of the potential for direct-use geothermal energy (i.e., for heat) focusing on the east shore of the Kootenay Lake area in BC’s Southeast Region. It will help to inform clean energy decisions by industry, communities and Indigenous groups as they seek to develop low-carbon energy and heat solutions. Geoscience BC funded geochemical analysis forKootenay Lake Geothermal Project – Phase 2.  

View Kootenay Lake Geothermal Project – Phase 2

This third phase of research focused on the Crawford Creek area, identified in Phase 2 as having the most geothermal potential. Work during the summer 2023 field season acquired the geotechnical data needed to generate a 3D geological and geothermal model. The results continue to provide evidence of a geothermal system at Crawford Creek that could access geothermal fluids in excess of 75°C.  

The project was funded by Geoscience BC, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP), CiCAN – Natural Resources Internship Program, and Mitacs.  

Project lead Gord MacMahon will present an online technical talk to the Canadian Energy Geoscience Association on March 27, 2024

Details will be confirmed in early March.

The Need 

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

Project Goals 

This Energy project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of Enabling Clean Energy and our goal to:  

  • Continue geothermal resource mapping and research focusing on economically viable projects and sites with high geothermal energy potential.  


The aims of this phase of the project were as follows:  

  • Conduct detailed geological mapping including ground-proofing all thermal (TIR) anomalies identified in Phase 2.  
  • Develop a hydrogeological model that supports the evidentiary geology and structure of the area as well as advance understanding of the geothermal processes at work in the Kootenay Lake area.  
  • Build a detailed and fully integrated geologic static model, showing bedrock lithology, bedding, jointing, and faulting, with the thermal anomalies measured at surface projected to depth.  
  • Regularly test all significant seeps/springs to further characterize the hydro-geothermal system and to increase confidence in measurements.  
  • Sample for dissolved silica, deuterium and oxygen isotopes to estimate the portion of unequilibrated/unreacted meteoric water to determine if a radiogenic heat source related to the Crawford Bay Stock is potentially involved.  
  • Map overburden thickness and underlying bedrock via an Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) survey.  
  • Implement a near-surface soil temperature survey using temperature data loggers.  
  • Conduct additional drone-based assessments.  
  • Gather and interpret sufficient technical data to support potential future drilling of one or two test wells.  

Project Benefits 

A successful geothermal project on the east shore of Kootenay Lake has the potential to attract investment to the area, create a template for similar developments in the region, expand on community-based agriculture, boost the local green economy, and increase local food security (e.g., using geothermal heat for greenhouses). On a wider scale, the project can contribute to Canada’s net-zero emissions goals and the development of a net-zero emissions economy.

Survey Area 

The project is on the east side of Kootenay Lake, in the area around Crawford Bay, in BC’s Southeast Region. The project is 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 ( The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) also produces an Indigenous Engagement Guidebook.  

What was Found

Geological, geochemical and geospatial data was collected in the study area during the 2023 field season. The geological data focused on the structure and fracture orientation of the Hamill H1 quartzite. Understanding the nature of the fractures, as well as their geological setting, orientation and quality, supports the characterization of the subsurface geothermal reservoir and the development of a hydrogeological model. 

The geochemical sampling sought to characterize all thermal seeps and warm springs identified in the study area in Phase 2. The warm springs were sampled for basic and isotope geochemistry to determine how deeper thermal waters may be shallow mixing with near surface fresh water. Two data loggers have also been installed to monitor surface temperature for one year. An Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) survey was conducted to map overburden thickness and underlying bedrock and to reveal any structures or trends and define how these features may relate to the thermal anomalies. A drone-based UAV magnetometer survey was conducted to aid the characterization of subsurface structures. 

The results indicate that joints within the host Hamill H1 quartzite are WNW trending and coincide with the orientation seen in the former Bluebell Mine at Riondel, where those joints are related to thermal waters in the mine. The magnetometer survey shows strong evidence of a contact or fracture zone in the Crawford Creek valley where all the warm springs are located. 

Geochemical results and early geological modelling point to a low temperature (40°C +), shallow circulation (2-3 km) geothermal system constrained by the quartzite, representing a dependable zero emission, direct heat energy source. The modelled recharge area combined with the projected depth of the quartzite suggests the potential to generate geothermal fluid temperatures up to 75oC or greater. In addition, the ERT survey program indicates fluid-saturated bedrock and possible thermal fluid reservoirs that may be suitable drilling targets for evaluation wells.  

Data was also collected for two additional areas (Gray Creek and Beaver Creek), identified as leads in addition to Crawford Creek during Phase 2. Phase 3 results suggest further study in these areas is not required.   

A fourth phase of the project would aim to understand and map the subsurface hydrology of the Crawford Creek system. 


  • Final Deliverables

    • GBC Report 2024-04: Kootenay Lake Geothermal Project – Phase 3 (PDF, 8.9 MB) 
    • GBC Report 2024-04: Associated Appendix Documents (total folder size 21.1 MB compressed)
      • Appendix, a. – SRK Consulting – Results & Interpretation Phase 3 Water Qual Sampling Program Dec 2023 (PDF, 7 MB) 
      • Appendix, b. – Geotronics Consulting Geophysical Report on UAV Mag Survey Nov 2023 (PDF, 17.4 MB) 
      • Appendix, d. – Laboratory analysis summary – CARO Labs Analyte Table Oct 2023  (Excel Spreadsheet, 23 KB) 
      • Appendix, e.  – Multiparameter Testing 2023 Results Summary (Excel Spreadsheet, 26 KB) 

  • Technical Articles

    • GBC Report 2023-06:Kootenay Lake Geothermal Project – Phase 2 (PDF, 55.1 Mb) 
    • 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.