ÍSOR – Iceland GeoSurvey

70 Years of Geothermal Experience

Iceland GeoSurvey, ÍSOR, is a leading provider of scientific and technical expertise to the geothermal industry in Iceland and abroad (www.geothermal.is). 

Iceland GeoSurvey, ÍSOR, is an applied research institution in the fields of energy and geoscience. Whilst it is owned by the Icelandic State, it is a self-financing, non-profit organisation that receives no direct government funding. Originally founded in 1945 as a part of the State Electrical Authority, ÍSOR instigated the systematic energy research which has been carried out ever since. ÍSOR and its predecessors have played a key role in this work from the start. As a direct result, over 65% of the primary energy use in Iceland at present has its source in geothermal energy.

Valuable experience

ÍSOR became an independent, non-profit governmental institute in 2003. We are proud to have a background of 70 years in the geothermal business and believe our experience and know-how are our most valuable assets.
ÍSOR provides consulting services in most aspects of geothermal exploration and utilisation worldwide. Our experience covers many other geoscience-related fields, including groundwater studies, marine geology and environmental monitoring. ÍSOR offers expertise in consulting and execution of the following disciplines:

  • Geothermal exploration
  • Drilling consultancy
  • Well testing and evaluation
  • Geothermal logging
  • Resource assessment
  • Resource management
  • Environmental impact assessments (EIA)
  • Groundwater
  • Engineering
  • Offshore geoscience
  • Geothermal training

Education and training have always been an important part of ÍSOR’s activities, as have its strong ties to the academic community. ÍSOR handles the major part of teaching at the UN Geothermal Training Programme (UNU GTP). Engineers and scientists are trained in a specialized 6 month programme, with some trainees continuing on to do an MSc or PhD degree in co-operation with the University of Iceland. ÍSOR has also been the primary consultant to the Icelandic International Development Agency in providing development assistance in the field of geothermal energy.

Projects and funds

In addition to providing services, ÍSOR takes part in many research projects, sometimes with the support of energy companies or domestic and international research funds.

Past co-operative projects funded by the EU have include the GEISER project, which focused on the effects of seismicity, sometimes caused by the stimulation of geothermal systems; the Thermo-Map project, which used geographical information to assess potential energy use at shallow depths through heat pump technology; and the IMAGE project, designed to develop new methods of investigating geothermal systems in order to more effectively site deep wells.
At present, ÍSOR is working on several projects funded by the geothermal cluster GEORG in co-operation with domestic and foreign parties, including the project Deep Roots of Geothermal Systems (DRG). This project aims to achieve a better understanding of the deepest part of volcanic geothermal systems.
For several decades, ÍSOR’s specialists have been involved in creating highly detailed geological maps for the energy companies, municipalities and private clients throughout Iceland. As part of our remit for education, ÍSOR has recently published a geological map of the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland and another of the Northern Volcanic Zone, both intended for general use,. These maps are the first two of a projected series.

ÍSOR and its specialists have unparalleled expertise in most aspects of geothermal research and utilisation worldwide. Among the countries involved are Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Russia, Hungary, Germany, Portugal (Azores), France (Guadeloupe), the Netherlands, Armenia, Turkey, USA, Indonesia, Philippines, El Salvador, Costa-Rica, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Dominica, India and China. Our basic values which have guided ÍSOR’s operations are professionalism, effective work procedures, robust basic research, honesty in consultation, avoidance of conflicts of interest and a culture of decisions based on long term planning.

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