Helen Robinson

Helen Robinson



PhD Research Project

We are all becoming increasingly aware of the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. However, a project such as this is of paramount importance to the communities in Kenya. It is currently estimated that 84% of Kenyans do not have access to electricity. Those that do find it very expensive and very unreliable. Power cuts often lasting over 12 hours, the reasons for which are poor infrastructure. The Menengai Project, along with other projects across the country (including Olkaria and Longonot) will ultimately result in Kenya becoming energy independent, with cheap and reliable electricity. Menengai is located on the floor of the East African Rift Valley (EAR) approximately 170km north of Nairobi. The development of the EAR is due to the movement of the Nubia and Somali plates. This has resulted in the stretching of the crust to thicknesses of 10-15km and buoyant uprising of magma.

Additionally Menengai sits atop the Kenya dome, an area of uplift associated with plume activity. Altogether this has resulted in high temperatures at shallow depths. The aim of this project is to develop a detailed conceptual model of heat and fluid flow beneath Menengai caldera. A relatively shallow (approx. 3000m) high enthalpy system with recorded temperatures of up to 340°C.

To develop such a model, vast quantities of data are required including: gravity, magnetic and resistivity data, temperatures and pressures of the system, microseismics, alteration mineralogy, borehole records (lithology, feed zones, and circulation losses), production and reinjection history, surface geological and structural maps with an emphasis on fissures, faults and fractures, to name just a few! This information will be combined with results from the analysis of lavas sampled during fieldwork season one (Sept’ 2014) the analysis of dissolved gases sampled from borehole fluids and soil gas samples that will be collected during fieldwork season two (Sept’ 2015). Such analyses are essential in establishing the magmatic- (eg. δ13C-CO2 and 3He/4He) and crust derived (eg. δDH-H2O, δ18O-H2O, δ13C-CH4) components of the fluid, as well as determining the equilibration temperatures and subsequent fluid history. All of which need elucidation for rational engineering design.


Prof. Paul Younger (University of Glasgow)

Dr. Daniel Koehn (University of Glasgow)

Prof. Fin Stuart (SUERC)


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