Luise Dambly Publications

Luise Dambly

PhD Student for Geothermal Energy and Geofluids

Mailing Address
Luise Dambly
Geothermal Energy & Geofluids
Institute of Geophysics
NO F 55
Sonneggstrasse 5
CH-8092 Zurich Switzerland

Phone +41 44 6338903

Dominique Ballarin Dolfin
Phone +41 44 632 3465


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Underlined names are links to current or past GEG members


Dambly, M.L.T., F. Samrock, A. Grayver, H. Eysteinsson , and M.O. Saar, Geophysical imaging of the active magmatic intrusion and geothermal reservoir formation beneath the Corbetti prospect, Main Ethiopian Rift , Geophysical Journal International, 236, pp. 1764-1781, 2024. [Download] [View Abstract]Silicic volcanic complexes in the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER) system host long-lived shallow magma reservoirs that provide heat needed to drive geothermal systems. Some of these geothermal systems in Ethiopia appear to be suitable for green and sustainable electricity generation. One such prospect is located at the Corbetti volcanic complex near the city of Awassa. High-resolution imaging of the subsurface below Corbetti is of imminent importance, not only because of its geothermal potential, but also due to reported evidence for an ongoing magmatic intrusion. In this study, we present a new subsurface 3-D electrical conductivity model of Corbetti obtained through the inversion of 120 magnetotelluric stations. The model elucidates a magmatic system under Corbetti and reveals that it is linked to a magma ponding zone in the lower crust. Magma is transported through the crust and accumulates in a shallow reservoir in form of a magmatic mush at a depth of 4 kmb.s.l. below the caldera. The imaged extent and depth of the shallow magma reservoir is in agreement with previous geodetic and gravimetric studies that proposed an ongoing magmatic intrusion. Interpreting our model with laboratory-based conductivity models for basaltic and rhyolitic melt compositions suggests that Corbetti is seemingly in a non-eruptible state with∼6–16 vol. percent basaltic melt in the lower crust and∼20–35 vol. percent rhyolitic melt in the upper crust. With these observations, Corbetti’s magmatic system shares common characteristics with volcanic complexes found in the central MER. Specifically, these volcanic complexes are transcrustal two-stage magmatic systems with magma storage in the lower and upper crust that supply heat for volcano-hosted high-temperature geothermal systems above them. According to the presented subsurface model, a cross-rift volcano-tectonic lineament exerts first-order controls on the magma emplacement and hydrothermal convection at Corbetti. Our study depicts hydrothermal convection pathways in unprecedented detail for this system and helps identify prospective regions for future geothermal exploration. 3-D imaging of both the Corbetti’s magmatic and associated geothermal systems provides key information for the quantitative evaluation of Corbetti’s geothermal energy potential and for the assessment of potential volcanic risks.

Dambly, M.L.T., F. Samrock, A. Grayver, and M.O. Saar, Insights on the interplay of rifting, transcrustal magmatism and formation of geothermal resources in the central segment of the Ethiopian Rift revealed by 3-D magnetotelluric imaging, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 128, 2023. [Download] [View Abstract]The Main Ethiopian Rift is accompanied by extensive volcanism and the formation of geothermal systems, both having a direct impact on the lives of millions of inhabitants. Although previous studies in the region found evidence that asthenospheric upwelling and associated decompression melting provide melt to magmatic systems that feed the tectono-magmatic segments in the rift valley, there is a lack of geophysical models imaging these regional and local scale transcrustal structures. To address this challenge, we use the magnetotelluric method and image subsurface electrical conductivity to examine the magmatic roots of Aluto volcano, quantify and interpret the melt distribution in the crust considering established concepts of continental rifting processes and constrain the formed geotherma system. Specifically, we combined regional (maximum 30 × 120 km2) and local (15 × 15 km2) magnetotelluric data sets and obtained the first multi-scale 3-D electrical conductivity model of a segment of the central Main Ethiopian Rift. The model unravels a magma ponding zone with up to 7 vol. % melt at the base of the crust (30 − 35 km b.s.l.) in the western part of the rift and its connection to Aluto volcano via a fault-aligned transcrustal magma system. Melt accumulates at shallow crustal depths (≥ 4 km b.s.l.), thereby providing heat for Aluto’s geothermal system. Our model suggests that different volcano-tectonic lineaments in the rift valley share a common melt source. The presented model provides new constraints on the melt distribution below a segment of the rift which is important for future geothermal developments and volcanic hazard assessments in the region.

Samrock, F., A. Grayver, M.L.T. Dambly, M.R. Müller, and M.O. Saar, Geophysically guided well siting at the Aluto-Langano geothermal reservoir, Geophysics, 88, pp. 1-43, 2023. [Download] [View Abstract]Volcano-hosted high-temperature geothermal reservoirs are powerful resources for green electricity generation. In regions where such resources are available, geothermal energy often provides a large share of a country’s total power generation capacity. Sustainable geothermal energy utilization depends on the successful siting of geothermal wells, which in turn depends on prior geophysical subsurface imaging and reservoir characterization. Electromagnetic resistivity imaging methods have proven to be a key tool for characterizing magma-driven geothermal systems because resistivity is sensitive to the presence of melt and clays that form through hydrothermal alteration. Special emphasis is often given to the “clay cap,” which forms on top of hydrothermal reservoirs along the flow paths of convecting geothermal fluids. As an example, the Aluto-Langano volcanic geothermal field in Ethiopia was covered with 178 densely spaced magnetotelluric (MT) stations. The 3D electrical conductivity model derived from the MT data images the magma body that acts as a heat source of the geothermal system, controlling geothermal convection and formation of alteration zones (commonly referred to as clay cap) atop the geothermal reservoir. Detailed 3D imaging of the clay cap topography can provide direct insight into hydrothermal flow patterns and help identify potential “upflow” zones. At Aluto all productive geothermal wells were drilled into zones of clay cap thinning and updoming, which is indicative of underlying hydrothermal upflow zones. In contrast, nonproductive wells were drilled into zones of clay cap thickening and lowering, which is an indicator for underlying “outflow” zones and cooling. This observation is linked to fundamental characteristics of volcano-hosted systems and can likely be adapted to other geothermal fields where sufficiently detailed MT surveys are available. Therefore, high-resolution 3D electromagnetic imaging of hydrothermal alteration products (clay caps) can be used to infer the hydrothermal flow patterns in geothermal reservoirs and contribute to derisking geothermal drilling projects.

Nejati, M., M.L.T. Dambly, and M.O. Saar, A methodology to determine the elastic properties of anisotropic rocks from a single uniaxial compression test, Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, 11/6, pp. 1166-1183, 2019. [Download] [View Abstract]This paper introduces a new methodology to measure the elastic constants of transversely isotropic rocks from a single uniaxial compression test. We first give the mathematical proof that a uniaxial compression test provides only four independent strain equations. As a result, the exact determination of all five independent elastic constants from only one test is not possible. An approximate determination of the Young's moduli and the Poisson's ratios is however practical and efficient when adding the Saint–Venant relation as the fifth equation. Explicit formulae are then developed to calculate both secant and tangent definitions of the five elastic constants from a minimum of four strain measurements. The results of this new methodology applied on three granitic samples demonstrate a significant stress-induced nonlinear behavior, where the tangent moduli increase by a factor of three to four when the rock is loaded up to 20 MPa. The static elastic constants obtained from the uniaxial compression test are also found to be significantly smaller than the dynamic ones obtained from the ultrasonic measurements.

Dambly, M.L.T., M. Nejati, D. Vogler, and M.O. Saar, On the direct measurement of shear moduli in transversely isotropic rocks using the uniaxial compression test, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences (IJRMMS), 113, pp. 220-240, 2019. [Download] [View Abstract]This paper introduces a methodology for the direct determination of the shear moduli in transversely isotropic rocks, using a single test, where a cylindrical specimen is subjected to uniaxial compression. A method is also developed to determine the orientation of the isotropy plane as well as the dynamic elastic constants using ultrasonic measurements on a single cylindrical specimen. Explicit formulae are developed to calculate the shear moduli from strain gauge measurements at different polar angles. The calculation of shear moduli from these formulae requires no knowledge about Young's moduli or Poisson's ratios and depends only on the orientation of the isotropy plane. Several strain gauge setups are designed to obtain the shear moduli from different numbers and arrangements of strain gauges. We demonstrate, that the shear moduli can be determined accurately and efficiently with only three strain gauge measurements. The orientation of the isotropy plane is measured with different methods, including ultrasonic measurements. The results show, that the isotropy plane of the tested granitic samples slightly deviates from the foliation plane. However, the foliation plane can still determine the orientation of the isotropy plane with a good approximation.

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Dambly, L., On the direct measurement of the shear modulus in transversely isotropic rocks using the uniaxial compression test, MSc Thesis, 31 pp., 2017. [View Abstract]This paper presents a novel method to directly measure the out-of-plane shear modulus of transversely isotropic rocks by using a single cylindrical specimen subjected to uniaxial compression. This simple methodology relies on the measurement of strain at single or multiple points around the sample, and using those in an explicit formula to directly determine the shear modulus. In addition to the shear modulus, the plane of symmetry, the Young's moduli and the Poisson's ratio transverse to the plane of isotropy can be determined from this single test. Several experimental setups are proposed depending on whether the plane of symmetry is known or needs to be determined. Experimental results on three granitic samples show that the measured plane of symmetry is significantly deviated from the one apparent from the visual inspection of the foliation plane. In addition, the Saint-Venant formula is found to give an error of more than 10% for samples exhibiting a higher anisotropy ratio than 1.85.