Regional geothermal aquifer architecture of the fluvial Lower Cretaceous Nieuwerkerk Formation - A palynological analysis

Cees J. L. Willems*, Andrea Vondrak, Dirk K. Munsterman, Marinus E. Donselaar, Harmen F. Mijnlieff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The primary challenge for efficient geothermal doublet design and deployment is the adequate prediction of the size, shape, lateral extent and thickness (or aquifer architecture) of aquifers. In the West Netherlands Basin, fluvial Lower Cretaceous sandstone-rich successions form the main aquifers for geothermal heat exploitation. Large variations in the thickness of these successions are recognised in currently active doublet systems that cannot be explained. This creates an uncertainty in aquifer thickness prediction, which increases the uncertainty in doublet lifetime prediction as it has an impact on net aquifer volume. The goal of this study was to improve our understanding of the thickness variations and regional aquifer architecture of the Nieuwerkerk Formation geothermal aquifers. For this purpose, new palynological data were evaluated to correlate aquifers in currently active doublet systems based on their chronostratigraphic position and regional Maximum Flooding Surfaces. Based on the palynological cuttings analysis, the fluvial interval of the Nieuwerkerk Formation was subdivided into two successions: a Late Ryazanian to Early Valanginian succession and a Valanginian succession. Within these successions trends were identified in sandstone content. In combination with seismic interpretation, maps were constructed that predict aquifer thickness and their lateral extent in the basin. The study emphasises the value of palynological analyses to reduce the uncertainty of fluvial hot sedimentary aquifer exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalNetherlands Journal of Geosciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • direct-use geothermal
  • hot sedimentary aquifers
  • Nieuwerkerk Formation
  • sporomorph eco-grouping
  • West Netherlands Basin
  • Geothermal energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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