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Cornell University Borehole Observatory (CUBO)


In summer 2022, the university drilled a nearly two-mile deep exploratory borehole that has enabled researchers to further explore subsurface rock conditions and heat output. Data collected from the borehole will allow the university to determine whether it can move forward with Earth Source Heat.

Earth Source Heat (ESH) is Cornell's version of a deep geothermal system that would use the Earth's internal heat to warm the Ithaca campus without the use of fossil fuels. The project is a research collaboration across several academic departments along with campus facilities staff, and it is a major component of the university's goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. If viable, ESH could also become a scalable solution for renewable heating in New York and in cold-climate regions across the globe.

Cornell scientists are committed to studying and addressing both benefits and risks in a thorough and transparent manner, developing best practices that will minimize risk and provide guidance for others who might implement this technology.

Additional Project Potential

Research related to Earth Source Heat continually evolved as the project progressed through the preparatory phase and moved into the exploratory phase. In summer 2022, the university drilled an approximately 2-mile-deep exploratory borehole that was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Other recent work has focused on identifying and modeling flow rates of potential sedimentary and crystalline bedrock reservoirs, surface geophysical testing to characterize the mechanical structure of the subsurface, multiple phases of seismometer deployments and updating existing campus energy distribution infrastructure. All the data collected as part of this project and resulting analyses are made publicly available on Cornell’s Deep Geothermal Heat Research website.

Institutional Outcomes