Structure of a low-enthalpy geothermal system inferred from magnetotellurics: A case study from Sri Lanka

Thusitha Bandara Nimalsiri, Nuwan Buddhika Suriyaarachchi, Bruce Hobbs, Adele Manzella, Morrel Fonseka, H. A. Dharmagunawardena, Nalaka Deepal Subasinghe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


First comprehensive geothermal exploration in Sri Lanka was conducted in 2010 encompassing seven thermal springs, of which Kapurella records the highest temperature. The study consisted of passive magnetotelluric (MT) soundings, in which static shifts were corrected using time domain electromagnetic method (TDEM). A frequency range of 12,500-0.001. Hz was used for MT acquisition and polar diagrams were employed for dimensionality determination. MT and TDEM data were jointly inverted and 2D models were created using both transverse electric and transverse magnetic modes. A conductive southeast dipping structure is revealed from both phase pseudosections and the preferred 2D inversion model. A conductive formation starting at a depth of 7.5. km shows a direct link with the dipping structure. We suggest that these conductive structures are accounted for deep circulation and accumulation of groundwater. Our results show the geothermal reservoir of Kapurella system with a lateral extension of around 2.5. km and a depth range of 3. km. It is further found that the associated dolerite dike is not the source of heat although it could be acting as an impermeable barrier to form the reservoir. The results have indicated the location of the deep reservoir and the possible fluid path of the Kapurella system, which could be utilized to direct future geothermal studies. This pioneering study makes suggestions to improve future MT data acquisition and to use boreholes and other geophysical methods to improve the investigation of structures at depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-110
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • geothermal
  • Kapurella
  • magnetotellurics
  • Sri Lanka


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