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StaffBio: Yoda

August 2, 2013

Meet Yoda: A mostly Jack Russell Terrier. At the age of 5, he was adopted 3 years ago from the Seattle Humane Society.

A day in the life of an office dog:

Originally an illegal worker in the Seattle office, Yoda spent his first few days hiding the drawers of Yini Nordin’s desk until he was discovered by AltaRock President Susan Petty and offered a full-time job as a receptionist.

Yoda loves his job, taking it seriously as he roams from office to office implementing the dog petting therapy treatment and making sure everyone is relaxed and happy. If you visit our Seattle office, he will most likely be the first one to greet you.

Yoda’s role in the Newberry EGS Demonstration:

In 2012, Yoda was given the task of field assistant, keeping Yini company during the 4 months they spent at Newberry. He embraced his new role exuberantly, meeting fellow field dogs, running in the snow with glee and packing on the pounds from snack table handouts. The 2013 field season is scheduled to start in a few weeks, and once it does Yoda will be back at Newberry as a full-time field assistant.


StaffBio: Yini Nordin

July 26, 2013

Yini Nordin

Yini Nordin accepted her position as Production Engineer with AltaRock in 2010 after leaving the sunshine of Houston, TX for the cool, wet weather of Seattle, WA.

Her role at Newberry has ranged from engineering assignments to Crockpot chef, keeping the field staff full and happy. Whether she’s barbequing or running the forklift, her canine sidekick Yoda is always nearby.

Role in the Demonstration:

Yini helped design and implement the stimulation plan at Newberry. She was instrumental in wiring the data logging system and helping install all of the sensors, gauges and pumps used on site over the course of the project.

One moment in time stands out in particular for Yini when she thinks about the Newberry project,  “I realized how mentally invested I am in the success of this EGS Demonstration while sitting in two inches of snow chewing ice off sensor wires to prevent cable sagging and data loss”.

Prior to geothermal:

Yini graduated with an B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2009 and spent a short time working in the west Texas oil and gas fields before moving to Seattle to join AltaRock in 2010.

Why she’s fascinated by geothermal energy:

“…the concept of technology development. Energy sources are abundant, but as demands increase, new ways to economically and safely harness them have to continually evolve to keep up with the trend.”

In her free time:

Yini enjoys making, consuming and thinking about delicious food, and going on adventures with her sidekick, Yoda.

Tools We Use: LiDAR Data

July 8, 2013

LiDAR MapLight Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) is remotely-sensed data collected by small aircraft equipped with high-tech laser scanners. Laser pulses aimed at the surface are reflected back to a data collector in the plane, and used to create a Digital Elevation Model, or DEM. This data is particularly useful in densely vegetated areas (such as Newberry), because the vegetation can be removed from the final imagery to get a clear view of the true surface of an area. LiDAR data for Newberry Volcano was collected in 2010 by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

At Newberry, we’ve used LiDAR data to better understand the geologic structure and the eruptive history of the volcano. LiDAR data has been particularly useful in mapping the fault system, lava flows and cinder cones (buttes) at Newberry Volcano. Understanding the structural geology and volcanic history of an area is useful in determining the best locations for potential geothermal development.

This LiDAR-based image is a DEM of Lava Butte, part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the site of some of the youngest lava flows produced by the volcano. Some of you might have driven up the road that spirals to the top of Lava Butte and seen the surrounding lava flows before. These flows are about 7,000 years old, and originate from the southern side of Lava Butte.LiDAR image for blog post

Here’s another LiDAR-based DEM image showing most of the Newberry Volcano edifice, including East and Paulina lakes. The orange line shows the area with LiDAR coverage. The surrounding background area is mapped from 10 m DEM data, which is less detailed. Pilot Butte, Lava Butte and Aubrey Butte are all easy to find. These buttes, or cinder cones, are unique geologic features at Newberry. While many volcanoes produce them, very few create as many as Newberry Volcano has. How many buttes can you count? Our last tally came to 451.

Recent Visits and Visitors

May 31, 2013

Spring is here, and with it come new visitors to the field site. On May 16th, AltaRock’s Trenton Cladouhos and Kyla Grasso visited Oregon State University in Corvallis to give an invited lecture in the Geology and Geophysics Seminar series at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. The lecture was attended by about 100 people, including members of the public as well as OSU faculty and students. The following day we led a field trip to Newberry for about a dozen graduate students taking a course taught by professors John Dilles, Robert Harris and Deborah Pence entitled Geothermal Systems for Earth Scientists and Engineers. We explored the geology of Newberry Volcano and the inner workings of the Newberry EGS Demonstration field site.

Students hike the rim trail around Lava Butte for a view of some of the youngest lava flows from Newberry and a discussion about Newberry’s eruptive history.

Students hike the rim trail around Lava Butte for a view of some of the youngest lava flows from Newberry and a discussion about Newberry’s eruptive history.

The field trip began at the top of Lava Butte with a discussion about the local geologic setting and Newberry’s eruptive history. Subsequent stops included a visit to the stimulation site, watching water sampling take place, visiting one of our field seismometer locations, and a brief trip to a previously constructed drill pad which is now being reclaimed and replanted with trees by the US Forest Service. These stops were followed by a beautiful hike up the snowy Big Obsidian Flow. Some lively discussion about the mineral and biological properties of the hot springs at East Lake, led by economic geologist and OSU Professor Dr. John Dilles, concluded the day’s adventures.

Trenton Cladouhos explains the equipment setup at the stimulation site to OSU students and faculty.

Trenton Cladouhos explains the equipment setup at the stimulation site to OSU students and faculty.

AltaRock also recently visited the OSU Cascades Campus class on Conventional and Alternative Energy Systems. We were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm, interest and depth of questions that students brought up during our presentation. We look forward to hosting these 21 soon-to-be engineers as well as a group of pre-Energy Systems Engineering students from OSU’s Corvallis campus for field trips next week.

View from the Big Obsidan Flow, which still has patches of deep snow in some place along the hiking trails.

View from the Big Obsidan Flow, which still has patches of deep snow in some place along the hiking trails.

AltaRock Featured in Inc. Magazine

May 14, 2013

We’re excited to share that AltaRock is featured in the May issue of Inc. Magazine with an article about the Newberry EGS Demonstration.

Inc. reporter Sam Wagreich spent quite a bit of time learning about our project and has written a strong, succinct description not only of how EGS works, but why it is poised to make such a difference:

“Geothermal energy holds great promise as a renewable source of round-the-clock electricity. But large-scale geothermal power production, which involves harnessing energy created by the heat of the earth’s interior, has proved difficult and expenseive. AltaRock Energy of Seattle has developed a process that could be a breakthrough.”

Read the full article here.

Staff Bio: Abi

April 8, 2013

AbiMeet Abigail, a Labrador Retriever/Boxer cross. Abi was adopted from a shelter in Maine at the age of five months after being found as a stray. After fattening up at her new home on the farm, she moved to Oregon four years ago and became an AltaRock field dog in June, 2012.

What does Abi do at work?

Abi’s main field tasks include keeping Kyla company and making sure no one finishes their lunch (or bananas!) unassisted. She enjoys rolling in the dirt, napping in the sun and playing tug-of-war with her canine sidekick, Yoda, although she thinks he barks just a little too much sometimes.

Now that field season has come to a close, Abi can often be found at our office in Bend, watching for the mailman and greeting visitors with a wag of her tail and a lick on the face if she can get away with it.

EGS Participant Bio: Kyla Grasso

March 27, 2013

Kyla GrassoKyla Grasso joined the AltaRock Energy team as a Geologist in June, 2012, and since then has been actively involved with field work at the Newberry EGS project site.

Background and Introduction to Geothermal Energy

Kyla holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Maine and a B.S. in Geology from Oregon State University. Her undergraduate thesis work involved characterizing the fault system at Newberry Volcano, and when AltaRock offered her a field position working on the Newberry EGS site, she was thrilled. “The opportunity to continue working on active research at Newberry was really exciting,” she said of accepting her current position with AltaRock.

Role in the demonstration

Kyla has been involved with most aspects of field work at the Newberry EGS Demonstration site. Her first task with AltaRock was to oversee the drilling of the MSA boreholes and help with installing the microseismic array equipment. During the stimulation, Kyla was involved with seismic monitoring and reporting, equipment maintenance and daily site activities.

Her continued involvement in groundwater monitoring at the project site means she’s spent the winter months snowshoeing and collecting water samples for analysis.  Kyla says she’s enjoyed the ups and downs of seeing things coming together at Newberry, and is looking forward to another field season in 2013.

Why she joined the geothermal industry

Kyla joined the geothermal industry because to her it represents one of the best possible solutions in the balancing act between human need and consumption, and the necessity of protecting the environment. “While we can’t erase our footprint on the Earth completely, the development of economically viable EGS could reduce the negative effects of our impact significantly. By reducing the number of fossil fuel fired power plants and replacing them with lower impact facilities, EGS could play an important role in how we think about energy use, efficiency and dependence. Seeing central Oregon become a forefront in the development of EGS technology is exciting.”

Outside of the demonstration

Kyla’s interests include road biking, hiking with her dog, wilderness rescue and trail running.


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