If there were lots of geothermal plants—even mobile ones—near a volcano, how much power could this provide? Could the sapping of some of the heat energy make the volcano less likely to erupt?

  • $\begingroup$ A mobile geothermal plant? I've never heard of that! $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ Volcanoes are not that stable. They may be dormant for several years, and then erupt and destroy everything nearby. I'm pretty sure there are safer and more consistent ways to generate energy. However, this is an interesting question, especially the second part of it. Looking forward to see a good answer from someone. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ Just out of interest, the Iceland Deep Drilling Project have accidentally created the first magma-EGS system. Yes yes, they've drilled into magma, and after some confusion (they weren't expecting to intersect the magma), have managed to get some control over the borehole. Read more: pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/db/WGC/papers/WGC/2015/37001.pdf $\endgroup$ Commented May 10, 2015 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ I really meant a lot of 'industrial' sized geothermal plants near a volcano, not necessarily at the magma areas. $\endgroup$
    – 201044
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


Volcanoes erupt due to increase in pressure, within the magma chamber (often 3-10 km deep), due to exolusion of volatiles. The magma chamber is usually heated from below. Geothermal plants in volcanic regions exploit heat from hot water in the "shallow subsurface", few hundreds of meters deep (and rarely exceeding 1-2 km). So as far as your second last question is concerned the impact on the volcano will be little as deep hydrothermal circulation can only transport so much heat.

There are many such plants around the world, e.g., Iceland, Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand etc. However drilling in hot rocks has its own set of problems. It is also not easy to build large plants near volcanic areas due to lack of accessibility, infrastructure, market etc.

  • $\begingroup$ And the risk that you will wake up one day and have no infrastructure, because the volcano blew up on you.... $\endgroup$
    – mtb-za
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure precautions can be taken with big geothermal stations not-to-close to a volcano. After all there are many nuclear power plants near cities and they can blow up on you.. $\endgroup$
    – 201044
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ Also volcanos don't have radioactive fallout with long half-lives.. Large geothermal stations near the tectonic plate gaps COULD be feasible alternative energy sources.. $\endgroup$
    – 201044
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ There seem to be a lot of interesting unusual ideas that if REALLY implemented could do 'great things for making energy or improving other situations. In Science Digest or Popular Science or other such magazine I read a whole array of ideas that might help society a lot if they ever get off the ground or out of various websites just ' rusting away' like a 'conversational oddity'. $\endgroup$
    – 201044
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 9:31

The question is a little off the mark, as volcanoes are just the surface expression of a much larger system. A more general idea is to target shallow magma chambers, and the hydrothermal fluids they act upon. This is being done all over the world, in tectonically active areas where there is a lot of molten rock at reasonably shallow depths.

The Iceland Deep Drilling Project have accidentally created the first magma-EGS system. Read more: pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/db/WGC/papers/WGC/2015/37001.pdf

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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting about the IDDP project. I'm a little surprised this hasn't gotten more press. $\endgroup$
    – Ian
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ The recent World Geothermal Congress 2015 had several entire sessions devoted to the IDDP projects, but I didn't read a single media report about it afterwards. $\endgroup$ Commented May 29, 2015 at 1:59

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