Large seismic campaign kicking off in Geneva, Switzerland

Large seismic campaign kicking off in Geneva, Switzerland SIG project site in Canton of Geneva, Switzerland (source: SIG website)
Carlo Cariaga 1 Sep 2021

SIG and the State of Geneva will be doing a 3D geophysical survey to identify the most favorable locations for geothermal drilling

The State of Geneva and the Industrial Services of Geneva (SIG) have announced that they will conduct a prospecting campaign for the Geneva subsoil from September 13, 2021 for a period of approximately six weeks. This 3D geophysical measurement campaign will make it possible to precisely map the subsoil of the Geneva basin in order to locate the most favorable places for the exploitation of geothermal energy.

Vibrator trucks will collect data overnight, without major nuisance or impact on infrastructure. 100% local and renewable, geothermal energy could cover 20% of the canton’s heating and cooling needs by 2035.

From September 13, 2021 and for a period of approximately six weeks, vibrator or weight drop trucks will be deployed over most of the canton and some municipalities in neighboring France located in the Community of Communes of Geneva, the Agglomeration of ‘Annemasse and the Pays de Gex. The trucks will emit short vibrations in the subsoil which will propagate and whose echoes will be recorded by sensors placed on the surface (geophones). The 3D images of the subsoil obtained will provide information on the most favorable locations for future geothermal drilling. The data collected will complement those from previous promising prospecting campaigns carried out between 2014 and 2020.

The trucks will be active from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., involving slight vibrations and short noise pollution, estimated at 15 minutes maximum. They will only make one pass per address and will not cause any impact on the infrastructure or any major nuisance.

Accelerating the ecological transition

Today, thermal needs (heating and hot water) are mainly covered by fossil fuels and therefore cause high CO2 emissions. “The climate emergency means accelerating the development of renewable energies and geothermal energy is therefore no longer an option but a necessity” declares Antonio Hodgers, State Councilor in charge of the Department of the Territory.

The Canton’s climate objectives, notably included in the Cantonal Climate Plan adopted in June 2021, aim to reduce our CO2 emissions by 60% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “100% local and renewable, this energy of the future could cover 20% of the canton’s heating and cooling needs by 2035 ”continues the State Councilor.

Of public utility, geothermal energy will be integrated into the development of structural thermal networks, which will heat and cool residential areas and industrial areas alongside other resources such as biomass, waste incineration, or recovery of thermal energy from the lake and streams. It will also play an essential role outside these networks by offering sustainable solutions to the entire territory. The State has delegated to SIG the development and management of these networks which offer sustainable solutions to the entire territory.

Essential operation for a future exploitation of geothermal energy

SIG coordinates the implementation of the geothermal prospecting campaign, a decisive step before the transition to exploitation. Around 12,000 plots are concerned. The measuring device will be installed during the day and the geophysical measurements will be carried out at night. Only one truck pass per address is planned. State-of-the-art technology and the equipment used will considerably minimize vibration or noise pollution.

This underground prospecting campaign represents an operational and human challenge. “The entire canton is concerned even if the measurements will not be carried out in all the municipalities. Indeed, this campaign is very important because having 3D images of the basement will allow us to maximize the chances of success of future projects. I would also like to thank the municipalities and individuals for their precious collaboration and understanding.” emphasizes Christian Brunier, Managing Director of SIG.

This campaign benefits from a federal subsidy of 60% of the overall budget by the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), or 9 MCHF. SIG provides funding for the remaining 40%, or 6 MCHF. “These prospecting works put the Canton on the right track to develop geothermal energy and, ultimately, significantly reduce CO2 emissions in Geneva.” specifies Nicole Lupi, specialist in geothermal energy at the OFEN.

Cross-border collaboration at work

The resources of the subsoil have no borders. The prospecting campaign is part of a dynamic of cross-border collaboration established for several years. By continuing the tradition of cross-border natural resource management, this subsoil prospecting campaign will allow Greater Geneva to benefit from a common public data base for the sustainable and coordinated management of the natural resources available.

Raising the awareness of the Geneva population

These exceptional operations deployed on a large scale will be accompanied by a vast communication campaign to raise awareness among Genevans of the importance of the wealth of the Canton’s subsoil and of its local resources. In addition, a letter and an explanatory flyer will be sent to households in Geneva at the beginning of September.

For any questions from the public, a free hotline n ° 0800 99 20 21 is available from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. From France, the number is 0800 91 50 65.


  • An interactive map accessible on the site can be consulted in real time, to know the exact dates of passage in the municipalities, by address.
  • A fixed information stand will be present on the Uni Mail esplanade, boulevard du Pont-d’Arve, until November 6, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (9 p.m. Thursday).
  • Live the virtual reality experience in the Geneva basements (virtual reality film on registration )
  • An information day “open doors” to the population will be organized on Saturday September 18, 2021, from 10 am to 4 pm at Uni Mail, boulevard du Pont d’Arve, on the main esplanade.
  • A mobile information stand will crisscross the Geneva region during the prospecting campaign, on municipal market days or in front of shops. The stand visit program can be viewed at
  • A poster campaign in the streets, Léman Express stations and TPG networks completes the information system, in addition to the usual social networks.

Source: SIG