Geology of the Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous geothermal aquifers in the West Netherlands Basin - An overview

Cees J.L. Willems*, Andrea Vondrak, Harmen F. Mijnlieff, Marinus E. Donselaar, Bart M.M. Van Kempen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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In the past 10 years the mature hydrocarbon province the West Netherlands Basin has hosted rapidly expanding geothermal development. Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous strata from which gas and oil had been produced since the 1950s became targets for geothermal exploitation. The extensive publicly available subsurface data including seismic surveys, several cores and logs from hundreds of hydrocarbon wells, combined with understanding of the geology after decades of hydrocarbon exploitation, facilitated the offtake of geothermal exploitation. Whilst the first geothermal projects proved the suitability of the permeable Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous sandstones for geothermal heat production, they also made clear that much detail of the aquifer geology is not yet fully understood. The aquifer architecture varies significantly across the basin because of the syn-tectonic sedimentation. The graben fault blocks that contain the geothermal targets experienced a different tectonic history compared to the horst and pop-up structures that host the hydrocarbon fields from which most subsurface data are derived. Accurate prediction of the continuity and thickness of aquifers is a prerequisite for efficient geothermal well deployment that aims at increasing heat recovery while avoiding the risk of early cold-water breakthrough. The potential recoverable heat and the current challenges to enhance further expansion of heat exploitation from this basin are evident. This paper presents an overview of the current understanding and uncertainties of the aquifer geology of the Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous strata and discusses new sequence-stratigraphic updates of the regional sedimentary aquifer architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalGeologie en Mijnbouw/Netherlands Journal of Geosciences
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • direct-use
  • Hot sedimentary aquifer
  • low enthalpy
  • North Sea basin
  • reservoir geology


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