Geothermal Resources

Geothermal energy, in the form of heat, radiates from the Earth’s interior as a result of the radioactive decay of isotopes in the Earth’s crust. Groundwater is heated as it circulates through faults and fractures in subsurface geologic layers, and occasionally makes its way to the surface as geysers and hot springs.

Montana’s geothermal systems reflect local and regional geology. The Basin and Range, Yellowstone Hotspot, Northern Great Plains, and intrusive rocks provide favorable conditions for geothermal waters. Montana hosts some 150 low- to moderate-temperature springs and wells; most are in the southwestern part of the State. Co-produced water from petroleum wells in eastern Montana reaches temperatures of over 300°F. Naturally occurring hot water and steam can be used in heat exchangers or steam turbines to generate electrical power. However, direct-use applications are currently limited to local use for heating structures and recreation/resorts.

Useful Links

Geothermal Energy | U.S. Department of Energy
National Geothermal Data System (NGDS)

Contact Information

Program Information

Jay A. Gunderson, Geologist–Professor
(406) 496-4598 | Email

Ryan Davison, Geologist–Associate Professor
(406) 496-4595 | Email

Elizabeth (Liddi) Meredith, Hydrogeologist–Professor
(406) 496-4599 | Email

Office locations in Butte and Billings

Related Publications and Data