Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT)

Drilling into Krafla magma

The high-temperature field Krafla in NE Iceland.

The Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT) project proposes to drill into the magma front in the Krafla Caldera in Northern Iceland. Through previous drillings (e.g., IDDP1) it is known that rhyolitic magma of about 900 °C exists at only 2.1 – 2.5 km depth. Within the project we intend to sample the magma-rock interface, which is characterized by high-enthalpy aqueous fluids, a transition from brittle to ductile rock, a solidus with first appearance of interstitial silicate melt, and bodies of accumulated silicate magma. If achievable, we will maintain the drill-hole open for as long as is possible to undertake a suite of geophysical observations. We plan to characterize the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of the interval between the Krafla hydrothermal system and Krafla magma and anticipate that these direct observations will allow the mechanisms and fluxes of mass and heat to be modelled and tested in-situ. This has direct consequences for the industrial use of near magma geothermal heat and will provide significant improvements in volcano monitoring.

We have garnered the direct financial and in-kind support from research authorities and ministries in Iceland, the UK, Italy and Germany. Based on the complexity of the system and the safety scenarios as well as the new technologies the project requires, we have proposed a suite of KMT Phase Zero activities to establish a full operation plan. The KMT phase Zero is funded amongst others through ICDP.

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