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Temperature-Depth Curve Tutorial

The following temperature-depth curves are from data collected by the SMU Geothermal Laboratory.  A normal temperature curve is a consistent increase in temperature with depth. What is more commonly found are wells with increases and decreases in temperature because of the plethora of effects on wells. The temperature-depth curves shown in this tutorial will assist you in interpreting what is actually encountered in the field. If you are interested in more information or have questions about this material, please contact Maria Richards with detailed needs at mrichard@mail.smu.edu.

Measuring the temperature in a well is useful for determining the Earth's gradient at that location.  Reviewing the gradient (change in temperature over the change in depth) gives clues as to what is happening underground.  When comparing multiple wells in a close proximity, the subtle movements of water, gas, air and the transfer heat are noticeable. 
Certain patterns are identifiable once there is an understanding of how temperature reacts to different mediums and situations.  The following sections give examples of how temperature -depth curves can differ and what these differences mean.