In 2013 the International Heat Flow Commission celebrates 50-anniversary of its foundation. Many dozens of highly experienced researchers from Asia, Europe, Northern and Latin America, Australia were elected and worked in the IHFC during these 50 years. In different years the IHFC was chaired by Francis Birch (1963-1967), Elena Lubimova (1967-1979), Lajos Stehena (1979-1983), Seya Uyeda (1983-1987), Alan Beck (1987-1991), Henry Pollack (1991-1995), Vladimir Čermak (1995-1999), Ilmo Kukkonen (1999-2003), David Chapman (2003-2007), Christoph Clauser (2007-2011). The current chairman is Yuri Popov (since 2011).
Created in 1963 within the IASPEI, the IHFC, during many years following its foundation, was dealing with the fundamental problems related to the development of methods and instruments for the measurements of temperature and rock thermal properties resulting in determination of heat flow, heat flow data processing and interpretation, prediction of crustal temperatures, description of our planet's structure and its evolution from geothermal data, and estimation of geothermal resources.
A new important aspect in the geothermic science and IHFC activity appeared in the 1980s to study the paleoclimate from the experimental geothermal data and to provide more accurate corrections of temperature gradients accounting for the paleoclimatic effect.
Geothermal experiments within super-deep and deep drilling programs in 1980 - 1990 provided more reliable experimental data on geothermal parameters due to the possibility to reach thermal equilibrium of formations, using numerous cores for thermal property measurements, significant evolution in measuring geothermic technique, wide international cooperation within these programs. These unique research projects allowed the geothermal community to learn more about the vertical variations of heat flow in different geological settings and provided a much better understanding of the role of paleoclimatic effects and fluid migration for the thermal regime. The new experimental data inferred from the deep and super-deep boreholes extended also our knowledge about the terrestrial heat flow in the areas of deep drilling which earlier relied on measurements in shallow wells.
Significant developments in geothermal measuring techniques and modeling simulators during past decades resulted in more reliable data bases, better possibilities for more reliable measurements of geothermal parameters, and 3D theoretical modeling. The new temperature logging instruments, fiber optical distributed temperature sensors, new and enhanced traditional technologies for rock thermal property measurements under lab and in-situ conditions, more reliable and accessible metrology provide now a much improved quality of experimental geothermal data and jointly with new powerful simulators open new horizons in fundamental and applied geothermics.
New important aspects in the IHFC activity appeared during the last decade when the geothermal energy exploration and production and correlated induced seismicity problems were included in 2007 in the scope of the main scientific interests of the IIHFC. In 2011 the scope of the IHFC scientific problems was extended more when geothermal aspects of oil, gas, and gas hydrate exploration and production were included into the IHFC scientific interests. It happened that geothermal research - both fundamental and applied - becomes more and more important in the oil-gas and gas hydrate science and industry. Petroleum system modeling, development and optimization of thermal methods of enhanced oil recovery, 4D modeling of reservoir thermal properties, temperature monitoring of reservoirs during the heavy oil production and other activity related to hydrocarbon recovery are based on effective applications of a sound experimental basis, approaches in reservoir modeling, and the geothermal data bases developed to a great extent by the geothermal community within the IHFC.
A large heat flow data base, summarizing the efforts of different generations of geothermal researchers, has been created by the IHFC during these 50 years. The just started Collaboration of IHFC with ICSU's PANGAEA World Data Center will make the heat flow data base even more readily accessible and useful for the international scientific community.
There are many important and urgent fundamental, applied, and industrial problems which require for their solution reliable geothermal data and techniques. To satisfy these requirements the geothermal community needs new ideas, active young researchers, international and interdisciplinary projects, and fast implementation of new theoretical and experimental results and techniques developed.
Yuri Popov Moscow, 29 March 2013
Exploring our planet continues to be one of the great challenges of mankind. Obtaining information on its structure and understanding its processes are vital for providing answers to pressing questions with regard to earthquakes and tsunamis, the changing climate, and the need for mineral and energy resources, to name just a few.
Growing scientific insight and current events sometimes shift the scientific and societal focus of attention from one aspect to another one. Sometimes, this seems to yield conflicting targets, such as in the debate about which sources of primary energy will sustain the production of affordable energy without triggering an unacceptable change of the world's climate.
Against the background of this demanding scientific, economic, and political environment, the expertise of scientists knowledgeable in heat transfer processes in the Earth and the variation of physical rock properties with temperature is indispensable. The IHFC, through its activities coordinated by its working groups, makes an effort to respond to these various demands by consolidating, on a global scale, the corresponding academic professionals and their expertise.
Therefore, the IHFC in 2007 decided to continue maintaining and updating its two data bases - on Global Heat Flow and on Borehole Temperatures and to respond to new challenges by increasing efforts in the existing working group on Paleoclimate. Thus, the IHFC continues to provide, evaluate, and interpret basic data required by more than just the heat flow community. In particular within the past decade, borehole temperatures have become and accepted and valued source of information on the changing world climate as expressed by its variable surface temperature, filling the gap between the instrumental record of air temperature and various temperature proxies. Additionally, the IHFC decided to initiate new working groups focusing on Applied Geothermics, Thermal Properties, and Outreach.
Thus, the IHFC continues to respond to demands from other geophysical disciplines within IASPEI. At the same time, it opens up and provides its expertise to applied fields of research and technical development, such as geothermal energy. By joining forces between the academic and the applied communities we trust that both will benefit and the quality and proliferation of geothermal energy use will increase significantly.
The IHFC is neither a closed circle nor intended as an "old boys club". New members are particularly welcome! As the IHFC lives by the activities of its members, I welcome all researchers interested in the topics outlined above to join us in our efforts. Let's join our individual efforts in improving our understanding of the thermal state of the Earth and its practical uses degree by degree!
Christoph Clauser Aachen, 23 December 2008
Five years ago, at the Vienna IUGG, the International Heat Flow Commission discussed briefly the topic of electronic communication. At that time e-mail was a fairly new concept, awkwardly implemented over a variety of networks with different protocols. In the quadrennium following Vienna, e-mail has become routine. The Internet has grown by leaps and bounds, large data transfers by FTP are now commonplace, and we are confronted by a new entity, the World Wide Web, an n-dimensional array of information about almost anything, provided you can navigate through the WWW. A portal into the WWW is called a Home-Page, representing an individual, an institute or department, a business or government bureau. The IHFC now displays its very own Home-Page, with a URL (Universal Resource Locator) address of http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/IHFC. This home page in the future will be your access to news of IHFC activities, publications, databases, newsletters, meetings, etc. When fully operational it will enable you to contribute material for posting so that others in the geothermal community can benefit. Welcome to the IHFC Home-Page on the WWW.
Sincerely, Vladimir Cermak, Chairman 1995-1999