New publication by Dr. Denise Degen in 'Environmental Earth Sciences '



The societal importance of geothermal energy is significantly increasing because of its low carbon-dioxide footprint. How- ever, geothermal exploration is also subject to high risks. For a better assessment of these risks, extensive parameter studies are required that improve the understanding of the subsurface. This yields computationally demanding analyses. Often, this is compensated by constructing models with a small vertical extent. This paper demonstrates that this leads to entirely bound- ary-dominated and hence uninformative models. It demonstrates the indispensable requirement to construct models with a large vertical extent to obtain informative models with respect to the model parameters. For this quantitative investigation, global sensitivity studies are essential since they also consider parameter correlations. To compensate for the computation- ally demanding nature of the analyses, a physics-based machine learning approach is employed, namely the reduced basis method, instead of reducing the physical dimensionality of the model. The reduced basis method yields a significant cost reduction while preserving the physics and a high accuracy, thus providing a more efficient alternative to considering, for instance, a small vertical extent. The reduction of the mathematical instead of physical space leads to less restrictive models and, hence, maintains the model prediction capabilities. The combination of methods is used for a detailed investigation of the influence of model boundary settings in typical regional-scale geothermal simulations and highlights potential problems.