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147

P r o c . 7 t h NZ Geothermal Workshop 1985

AN ASSESSMENT OF HEAT FLOM AT WHAKAREWAREWA

Barbara Simpson

New Zealand Geological Survey, Rotorua

ABSTRACT
The Thermal Reserve a t Whakarewarewa on t h e southern
boundary of Rotorua Geothermal F i e l d i s believed t o
have been under s t r e s s f o r a number of y e a r s .
A r t i f i c i a1 e x p l o i t a t i o n of t h e hydrothermal resource
appears t o be a s i g n i f i c a n t c o n t r i b u t o r t o the
observed d e c l i n e i n n a t u r a l a c t i v i t y .
Although t h e
d e c l i n e has been described i n d e t a i l i t has been
d i f f i c u l t t o q u a n t i f y t h e changes.
Recently a1 1 t h e n a t u r a l f e a t u r e s a t Whakarewarewa
were resurveyed, t h e only preceding survey having been
made i n 1967-69. A t o t a l heat f l u x a t Whakarewarewa
of 158 MW i s estimated on t h e b a s i s of heat l o s s from
s p r i n g s due t o evaporation, r a d i a t i o n and discharge,
and allowing f o r ground s u r f a c e heat flow and l o s s e s
i n t o t h e Puarenga Stream.
The 1984 resurvey of 285 s p r i n g s shows a reduction i n
heat f l u x of 31% over t h e 15 year period, while t h e
heat f l u x through the ground s u r f a c e has decreased by
23%.

I N TRO DU CT I 0 N

The Rotorua geothermal a q u i f e r supplies f l u i d t o t h e


n a t u r a l f e a t u r e s a t Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve on
t h e southern boundary of Rotorua City. I t i s a l s o t h e
source o f f l u i d f o r many boreholes used for space and
process heating. Development a t Wairakei i n t h e 1950s
proved t h a t l a r g e s c a l e e x p l o i t a t i o n of a geothermal
resource i s incompatible with preservation of natural
s u r f a c e a c t i v i t y such as geysers and c h l o r i d e s p r i n g s .
For some years t h e r e has been growing concern t h a t
a r t i f i c i a l e x p l o i t a t i o n of geothermal f l u i d i n Rotorua
A preliminary
i s affecting the natural a c t i v i t y .
a n a l y s i s of heat flow r e s u l t s ( t h i s paper) leaves
l i t t l e doubt t h a t a c t i v i t y a t Whakarewarewa i s
declining.

evaporatic8i equation.
Since
spring
in
the
d e s c r i p t i o n s r a r e l y include any comment on height of
e b u l l i t i o n , t h i s f a c t o r has been ignored i n the
calculations
which,
therefore,
provide
minimum
estimates.
Radiative heat l o s s from hot s p r i n g s has
been assessed using t h e Stefan-Boltzmann Law of black
body r a d i a t i o n modified f o r t h e e m i s s i v i t y of a water
s u r f a c e . R e l a t i v e t o evaporative and r a d i a t i v e losses
t h e e f f e c t s of conduction and d i f f u s i o n a r e n e g l i g i b l e
and have not been included. Surface discharge, where
i t e x i s t s , i s a s i g n i f i c a n t means of heat loss and has
been evaluated r e l a t i v e t o t h e annual mean ambient
temperature of 12C.
Each f e a t u r e d e s c r i p t i o n from both Survey A and Survey
B has been examined and, where a p p r o p r i a t e , heat loss
due t o evaporation, r a d i a t i o n and s u r f a c e discharge
has been c a l c u l a t e d .
I n some cases t h e d e s c r i p t i o n s
a r e i n s u f f i c i e n t l y q u a n t i t a t i v e t o allow c a l c u l a t i o n ,
while i n many o t h e r s the described f e a t u r e s a r e dry,
o r contain viscous bubbling mud, or a r e steaming
Dawson's equations a r e not a p p r o p r i a t e i n
fumaroles.
t h e s e ci rcumstances, b u t wherever p o s s i b l e t h e s e
f e a t u r e s have been included i n the h o t ground survey
( s e e below). Large e r r o r s i n t h e heat flow estimates
a r i s e because of u n c e r t a i n t i e s i n t h e pool a r e a s , the
mean s u r f a c e temperature ( u s u a l l y only one spot
reading has been t a k e n ) , and the q u a n t i t y of
discharge.
However, s i n c e the same techniques have
been used i n analysi ng both surveys, comparisons
between them should be meaningful.
Despite t h e l a r g e number of f e a t u r e s described, only
285 could be i d e n t i f i e d and q u a n t i f i e d i n both Surveys
A and B (Table 1 ) .
Table 1:

Evaporation
& Radiation

I n t h e 1960s E F Lloyd had t h e f o r e s i g h t t o see t h a t


Whakarewarewa's hot s p r i n g s m i g h t be jeopardised by
t h e growing demand f o r geothermal energy (unpubli shed
results).
Accordingly over the period 1967-69 he
conducted a d e t a i l e d survey ( r e f e r r e d t o here .as
Survey A ) of t h e natural f e a t u r e s .
He mapped t h e
Reserve, gave d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n s of 538 f e a t u r e s
including c h l o r i d e s p r i n g s , geysers, t u r b i d pools,
mudholes, fumaroles and c o l l a p s e p i t s , and surveyed
ground temperatures a t 150 mm p e n e t r a t i o n .
His
p e r s i s t e n c e and enthusiasm have r e s u l t e d i n an
outstanding database with which a l l subsequent work a t
Whakarewarewa can be compared.
I n t h e 1984-85
resurvey over 800 f e a t u r e s were described, many of
which had been overlooked i n Survey A because of.'.
i n a c c e s s i b i l i t y or small s i z e . A d e t a i l e d q u a l i t a t i v e
comparison of Surveys A and B shows t h a t t h e r e has
been s i g n i f i c a n t cooling and a d e c l i n e i n c h l o r i d e
s p r i n g a c t i v i t y (Cody, 1984).

Heat l o s s due t o evaporation, r a d i a t i o n and


s u r f a c e discharge from 285 springs a t
Whakarewarewa.
Discharge

Total

Survey A

108 M4

27 MW

135 MW

Survey B

76 MW

1 7 MW

93 MW

On t h e b a s i s of t h i s 285 spring comparison t h e r e has

been a 31% d e c l i n e i n heat l o s s from s p r i n g s with the


biggest
change
attributable
t o decreased mass
discharge.
This i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h Cody's (1984)
q u a l i t a t i v e comparison of the two surveys i n which
cooling i s expressed by a 40% reduction i n the number
of b o i l i n g c h l o r i d e s p r i n g s and a 15% reduction in t h e
number o f discharging s p r i n g s .

I f a1 1 s p r i n g s i n Survey 6 f o r which heat loss can


c a l c u l a t e d a r e sumned, t h i s r e s u l t s i n a f l u x
100 MW, which can be taken as a minimum estimate
t h e c u r r e n t t o t a l n a t u r a l heat loss from springs
Whakarewarewa.

be
of
of
at

HEAT FLOW FROM SPRINGS


The r a t e of heat l o s s from hot s p r i n g s i s determined
using techniques described by Dawson (1964). A n n u a l
mean atmospheric c o n d i t i o n s f o r Rotorua have been used

Geysers have not been included i n t h e above a n a l y s i s ,


because of the p r a c t i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s in assessing
t h e i r discharge.
No estimates a r e a v a i l a b l e from
Survey A , b u t Cody ( p e r s . comm.) has r e c e n t l y assessed

SIMPSON
an o r d e r of magnitude discharge f o r f o u r geysers on
t h e b a s i s of average e r u p t i o n time, column height and
c r o s s s e c t i o n a l a r e a of the vent. Heat flow i s then
c a l c u l a t e d r e l a t i v e t o ambient temperature assuming
t h e enthalpy of b o i l i n g water (Table 2 ) .

included i n t h e evaporative, r a d i a t i v e and s u r f a c e


discharge heat l o s s assessment.
Some s p r i n g s which
were included i n t h e s e c a l c u l a t i o n s a l s o discharge
i n t o t h e stream, r e s u l t i n g i n e r r o r s which a r e l i k e l y
t o be i n s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i v e t o the e r r o r s i n
c a l c u l a t i o n of heat flow from s p r i n g s .

Heat flow due t o geyser discharge

The absence of equivalent d a t a from t h e Puarenga


Stream f o r e a r l i e r y e a r s makes i t impossible t o
i n v e s t i g a t e changes over a period of time.

Table 2:
Geyser

Heat loss
(kW)

Mass discharge
(d/day)

P r i n c e of Wales' Feathers
Pohutu
Wai korohi hi
Ma hang a

325
1600
41 5
13

1386
6826
1770
55

HOT GROUND SURVEY


Survey A included t h e measurement of over 1150 ground
temperatures, 150 mm deep, covering a t o t a l a r e a of
about 400 000 m2.
These measurements were a l l made
during October-November 1968.
The r e p e a t survey,
conducted i n January-February 1985, involved over 1500
A check f o r consistency was made
measurement s i t e s .
during Survey 8 by reoccupying a s e r i e s of s i t e s .
In
g e n e r a l , d a t a p o i n t s were reproducible t o within 5C.
D i f f e r e n t seasonal conditions p r e v a i l e d f o r t h e two
surveys, b u t A l l i s (1979) shows t h a t e r r o r bars of
k 5C may be applied i n comparing 150 mm temperature
readings i n s p r i n g and summer.
All d a t a p o i n t s f o r each survey were p l o t t e d on a map
and contours were evaluated a t 20"C, 40"C, 60C and
80C.
Although the e r r o r s i n i n d i v i d u a l d a t a p o i n t s
a r e not l a r g e , contouring i n v o l v e s assumption and
i n t e r p o l a t i o n , which may lead t o l a r g e e r r o r s . Since
t h e same a n a l y s i s technique has been used f o r both
surveys, comparisons should s t i l l be r e l i a b l e . Ground
s u r f a c e heat flow has been determined using Dawson' s
(1964) empirical equation based on the a r e a s defined
by map contours (Table 3 ) .
Table 3:

Comparison of ground s u r f a c e heat flow


defined by temperature contours 150 mm deep

Con t o u r
20C
40:C
60C
80 C
Tota

DISCUSSION
A s i g n i f i c a n t and dramatic decrease i n heat flow,
amounting t o about 30%, has occurred a t Whakarewarewa
The change observed i s
between Surveys A and 8.
c o n s i s t e n t with a p r e s s u r e d e c l i n e r e s u l t i n g from
increased a r t i f i c i a l e x t r a c t i o n o f f l u i d from t h e
geothermal a q u i f e r .
I n p a r t i c u l a r t h e r e has been a
l a r g e decrease i n t h e s u r f a c e discharge of c h l o r i d e
springs,
and ground temperature r e s u l t s suggest
increased steam heating of shallow groundwater.
Heat flow a t Wairakei measured i n 1951-52 and 1958
( F i s h e r , 1964), during which time a r t i f i c i a l discharge
from t h e f i e l d increased by a f a c t o r of 14, showed a
25% reduction i n heat l o s s by evaporation from s p r i n g s
i n Wairakei Geyser Valley and a 43% reduction i n heat
discharge i n t o t h e 'rlairakei Stream.
Over t h e same
period hot s p r i n g and geyser a c t i v i t y a t Wairakei
Geyser Valley declined s t e a d i l y .
The r e s u l t s presented here not only quantify t h e
changes a t Whakarewarewa s i n c e Survey A , b u t a l s o
allow an e s t i m a t e of t h e t o t a l n a t u r a l heat flow under
current conditions.
The major heat l o s s e s occur by
evaporation, r a d i a t i o n and s u r f a c e discharge from hot
s p r i n g s , f o r which Survey 8 gives a minimum value of
100 MW, p l u s another 10 MW f o r geyser discharge.
Seepage i n t o t h e Puarenga Stream accounts f o r 40 MW,
while ground s u r f a c e heat f l u x adds about 8 M'A.
Sumning t h e s e components g i v e s a t o t a l of 158 MY.
Taking t h e a r t i f i c i a l drawoff a s 32 000 tonnes/day a t
an average discharge enthalpy of 650 kJ/kg g i v e s a
t o t a l a r t i f i c i a l heat f l u x of about 220 Mw r e l a t i v e t o
ambient temperature.

Heat flow
Survey A
Survey B

/< T '< 40C

'< T < 6OoC


2 T /< 80aC
< T

AC K NOW L EDGE MEN TS


1233
1912
2891
4242

k'rl
kW
kW
kW

10278 kW

1144
2314
2521
1904

kW
kW
kW
kW

7883 kW

This r e p r e s e n t s a t o t a l d e c l i n e i n ground s u r f a c e heat


flow of 23% which i s broadly c o n s i s t e n t with t h e
Temperatures l e s s
dec 1 ne observed i n t h e s p r i n g s .
than about 40C a r e l e s s r e l i a b l e because of d i u r n a l
and seasonal v a r i a t i o n s i n a i r .temperature.
Not
s u r p r i s i n g l y , t h e l a r g e s t change between Surveys A and
B has occurred a t temperatures g r e a t e r than 80C. An
i n c r e a s e i n heat flow i n t h e 40-60C range i s most
apparent a t higher e l e v a t i o n s f u r t h e r from t h e
geothermal source a r e a a t Whakarewarewa.
These
observations a r e c o n s i s t e n t with increased steam
heating due t o decreasing p r e s s u r e s i n t h e geothermal
aquifer.

SEEPAGE INTO THE PUARENGA STREAM


Bradford and Glover (1984) have estimated t h e heat
gain of t h e Puarenga Stream a s i t d r a i n s through
Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve.
Their estimate of
approximately 40 MW i s based on chemical, temperature
and flow d a t a c o l l e c t e d both upstream and downstream
o f t h e Reserve.
Many s p r i n g s , both on t h e streambed
and i t s banks, c o n t r i b u t e t o t h i s discharge. Because
of lack of d e f i n i t i o n and s u s c e p t i b i l i t y t o f l o o d i n g
by t h e stream t h e majority of t h e s e s p r i n g s were n o t

The r e s u l t s presented here could not have been


achieved without t h e extensive f i e l d e f f o r t s of Ted
Lloyd, Ashley Cody and t h e numerous t e c h n i c a l
a s s i s t a n t s and vacation workers who helped them. I am
a l s o g r a t e f u l t o Ted Lloyd and Ashley Cody f o r t h e i r
comments on t h e manuscript.

REFERENCES
Allis,
R G (1979): Heat flow and
i n v e s t i g a t i o n s i n thermal ground.
Division Report 135. DSIR.

temperature
Geophysics

Bradford, E; Glover, R B (1984): Heat and c h l o r i d e


inflow i n t o t h e Puarenga Stream f o r Whakarewarewa.
Proc. 6 t h NZ Geothermal Workshop 1984, University
of Auckland Geothermal I n s t i t u t e .
Cody, A D (1984): Changes a t Whakarewarewa between
1969 and 1984.
I n Rotorua Monitoring Programne
Progress Report July-September 1984, Geothermal
Research C e n t r e , DSIR, Wairakei

Dawson, G 8 (1964): The n a t u r e and assessment of heat


flow from hydrothermal a r e a s .
N Z Journal of
Geology and Geophysics, vol. 7, 155-171.
F i s h e r , R G (1964): Geothermal heat flow a t 'rlairakei
during 1958.
N Z Journal
of Geology and
G eop hy s i c s , v o =,-17
2 - 184.