Variations in the electrical conductivity of a soil and water system with temperature and salt concentration suggest that a soil containing hot and/or saline groundwater may be expected to have a higher conductivity compared to a cooler and/or less saline system. Temperature and conductivity surveys were carried out at Pilgrim Springs, on the Seward Peninsula, and at Chena Hot Springs, near Fairbanks, to test the use of a magnetic induction method (which measures electrical conductivity) for delineating near-surface hot groundwater sources in geothermal areas surrounded by permafrost. Comparison of the temperature data and conductivity data from these surveys demonstrates that the conductivity anomalies, as measured by the magnetic induction method, can be used to define the precise location of hot groundwater sources in these geothermal areas with the higher temperatures correlating with higher values of conductivity. Magnetic induction measurements of conductivity can also be used to define the lateral extent of the thawed geothermal areas (used for calculating the stored energy) in permafrost terrain. The utility of these magnetic induction measurements of conductivity for reconnaissance geophysical surveys of geothermal areas is that a much greater density of data can be obtained in a shorter time in comparison with shallow temperature measurements. In addition, it is simpler, cheaper and easier (physically) to obtain the data. While conductivity anomalies can result from other than hot and/or saline groundwater, these conductivity data, when coupled with a few measured temperature profiles and groundwater samples, should result in reliable reconnaissance level geophysical surveys in Alaskan geothermal areas.

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