The earth’s crust is in pieces. Huge continental-size plates. The heat from inside the earth flows closest to the surface where these plates come together. Along the seams, the crust thins and fractures. Mountain ranges form. Volcanoes erupt.
A ring of 452 volcanoes defines the geography from the southern tip of the Americas, up and across the Bering Strait, all the way down to New Zealand. Mount St. Helens is just one volcano in this Ring of Fire along the periphery of the plates beneath the Pacific Ocean. Plate movements atop the earth’s mantle create tremendous energy. Oregon’s place on the Pacific Rim assures a resource of geothermal energy that can find its way to human use. Groundwater that flows into cracks and fissures of hot rock can carry the heat to the surface. A geothermal resource has three distinct applications: direct use of hot water, ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling of buildings, and electric power generation. Continue reading