The first site of interest regarding this phenomenon is found in an area known as Despoblados, which is about 7 km from the Veladero mining operations, and 350 km from the city of San Juan. At first, the area underwent geological, geochemical, and geophysical studies, which have since evolved into on-site study. The accuracy of the information obtained has allowed for planning of drilling that is to exploit the measured geothermal gradient.
The results obtained in this first area are particularly encouraging with respect to manifestations of thermo-mineralizations. Together with specialists from the University of Pisa (Italy), water samples were taken and analyzed from the basis of geochemistry in the regions of Los Despoblados, Gollete, and Bañitos.
The results of these studies have been received positively and now a planning phase is underway that includes deeper layers of research. This project has been developed thanks to the formation of a temporary consortium between EPSE, Geotermia Andia, and MAGSA. The union was formed in 2010.
In 2005, EPSE was given the rights to move forward regarding the exploration and eventual exploitation of an anomalous region found inside a mining reserve, known as Los Despoblados. (The full name of the area is “Mining Exploration and Exploitation Institute.”), which forms a larger area, exceeding 2,300 Km2in the Northwest of San Juan; this area is characterized by thermal events such as hot springs and thermal manifestations that point to geothermal activity.
From 2006-2009 research was done that gave the following results: Arrive at an understanding of the origin of the Jachal river’s presence of boron, arsenic, sulfates and clorides in the water; and, establish a geographical understanding of the Rio Jachal basin, whose surface exceeds 2,300 Km2 as previously mentioned in regards to hot springs and springs in the region.
Once the region has been categorized in relation to geothermal gradients, EPSE will be able to proceed to select specific regions based on their characteristics and strategic advantages. Such information will be coupled with imaging interpretations resulting from various scales, region tectonics, volcanic considerations, chemical analysis of water and rocks, petrographic research in detail, absolute data cataloging, and so on.
In 2010, the temporary consortium EPSE-GEOTERMIA ANDIA was formed and gave way to activity in geophysics in the geothermal region known as Los Despoblados. At the same time, a geochemical coalition was formed to consider the high rates of temperature and detect leaks of geothermal fluids causing secondary permeation at deep levels, as well as the creation of a map of the phenomenon located within the reserve.
In 2011, the participation of a geophysical mission focusing on telluric magnetic prospects allowing for at depth research, spurning on a research campaign regarding related gradients (1st phase) and then at least two deep perforations of around 1,500 meters.
In 2012, the temporary consortium between EPSE, GEOTERMIA ANDINA and MAGSA was formed in order to further develop exploration and exploitation activities regarding endogenous vapors in the Los Despoblados area. The partnership was formed on December 26th, 2012.
In 2013, perforations began for the first phase (thermal gradient).
Phase 1 of exploration
Geochemical study of water and gasses
Geophysical analysis (SEV and MT)
Perforation of gradient wells (up to 250 m)
Phase 2 of exploration
Analysis of measurements and results
International directives (GEOTHERMEX)
Defining of deep strategic wells
Analysis of potential resources
Define the limits of the reserve
Phase 3 of exploration
Set out and define the exploitation project