Prof. Nicholas Obuya Mariita

Dr. Nicholas Obuya Mariita

Designation: Professor
Contact: +254-734 948 318
School/Institute: Geothermal Energy Training and Research Institute, (GeTRI)
Dept.: Geothermal Training and Research Institute, GeTRI

Areas of Expertise

Career geophysicist with over 35 years of training, research and work experience in applied geophysics and environmental studies of geothermal fields.

Academic Background

Qualification Institution Year
PhD in Applied Geophysics University of Texas,El Paso 2001 – 2003
Postgraduate Diploma Kyushu University, Japan 1995
MSc. Applied Geophysics University of Birmingham, UK 1990 – 1991
Post Graduate Dip in Geothermal Energy United Nations University, Iceland  1986
BSc. Physics and Maths. University of Nairobi 1979 – 1983

Professional Background

  1. February 2013 – to Date: Professor of Geophysics &Director, Geothermal Training and Research Institute (GeTRI, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT).
    • I head DeKUT’s Geothermal Training and Research Institute. I am involved in Planning and Implementing activities related to the Institute in all areas related to geology and geothermal energy training and research. My job includes sourcing, preparing, evaluating and executing training and research proposals; I prepare GeTRI’s annual budget, including monitoring and controlling expenses.
    • I have been involved in the MSc Geothermal Energy Technology and BSc Geology curricula development and their approval by Commission for University Education (CUE).
  2. 2008 –2012: Chief Trainer, Geothermal, Kenya Electricity Generating Company.
    • I headed KenGen’s Geothermal Training Centre and was involved in Planning and Implementing activities related to the Training Centre in all areas related to geothermal energy research, utilization and general staff development. My job included sourcing, preparing, evaluating and executing training proposals; I prepared the Training Centre’s annual budget (that amounted to over Ksh 50,000,000) and monitored and controlled expenses.
    • I was involved in Identifying and Deploying appropriate facilitating personnel to conduct training programs according to the company’s business plans and executing geothermal training programmes,
    • The Geothermal Training Centre holds an annual short course (lasting about one month) in collaboration with the United Nations University and the Geothermal Development Company on geothermal energy investigations. I coordinated these efforts. Its annual budget was in the region of Ksh 15,000,000.
    • I was answerable to the Geothermal Development Manager and I advised him on the direction of training development in the geothermal project.
  3. 1994-2008: Senior Geophysicist, Kenya Electricity Generating Company.
    • Carrying out surface exploration of prospective geothermal areas
    • Monitoring for changes due to geothermal energy exploitation
    • Processing, analysing and interpreting data, compiling reports from it and making presentations
    • Preparing and management of the Geophysics section budget of Ksh 150,000,000 annually
    • Submitting regular reports to Chief Geothermal Scientist on the sectional activities, including expenditures, mileage and staff movement
    • Chairing the Geothermal Resource Assessment’s Research and Collaboration Committee. By virtue of this, I was able to collaborate in joint research with other professionals and institutions.
  4. 1986-1994: Geophysicist, Ministry of Energy.
    • Worked as a Geophysicist, applying gravity and magnetic, resistivity and seismic methods to mineral exploration, ground water survey and geothermal energy exploration. Work also included micro-gravity and micro-seismic applications to geothermal reservoir monitoring and management.


Period  Research  Area Brief Project Description Financiers
2018 – 2019


Global Challenges Research Fund Networking Grants (PI) Collaborative Research between Oxford University and DeKUT on Harnessing volcanic and geothermal resources for sustainable development in the East African Rift. The grant is for hosting collaborative workshops. These networking activities are problem-orientated and solution focused and will generate new ideas and innovative approaches to addressing global challenges. UK National Academies (GCRFNG\100310)
2016 – 2019


Magmatism and Tectonics. (Co-PI) Collaborative Research between Michigan State University and DeKUT on the temporal evolution of mantle plume contributions to magmatism in the Turkana Depression. The plan is to obtain new geochemical and geochronological data in order to better understand the sources of rift lavas. USA’s National Science Foundation NSF Award Number: 1551872
2014 – 2017 GeoPower Africa (PI) Identifying and mapping low enthalpy geothermal areas along the EAR for small scale power generation for rural communities. USAID, Power Africa Program
2013 – 2016 Health, Water and Sanitation(Co-PI) Understanding the Environment and promoting health in Lake Baringo/Bogoria Drainages Basin Kenya National Council of Science Technology and Innovation
2012 – 2015 Energy efficiency and cost effective power generation (Co-PI) Improved Geothermal discharge facility with low noise generation and reduced brine carryover Kenya National Council of Science Technology and Innovation

Other University and National Responsibilities

  1. Director of the Geothermal Training and Research Institute.
  2. Associate Professor of Geothermal Energy Technology program.

Social Responsibilities

Between 2012 and 2018 I was the Executive Officer of the Geothermal Association of Kenya. My responsibilities were management of the Association in accordance with its bylaws and, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, overseeing the Association’s long and short term plans in accordance with its strategy.
I have been a team member of organizing committees for local and international conferences and seminars, namely, KenGen Technical Seminar, KenGen G2G Technical Seminar and Africa Rift Geothermal Facility Conference (ARGeo).
KenGen in conjunction with the United Nations University-GTP and the Geothermal Development Company has run an annual Short Course on exploration for geothermal resources since the year 2005. As a Chief Geothermal Training Officer I was either the chairperson or the secretary of the organizing committee 2005 and 2012.

Other Academic And Professional Achievements

  1. 1985: Hydro-geological Survey and KRISP Crustal Investigations
    Attached to a team from the British Geological Survey investigating pizeometric surfaces and water movement within the Kenya Rift Valley. Visited boreholes to check their conditions, and took WRL measurements and collected water samples for chemical and isotropic analysis. I participated in the Kenya Rift International Seismic Project by surveying possible shot sites and was actively involved in shooting.
  2. 1986: Electrical Sounding at Eburru Geothermal Prospect and Geothermal course, Iceland
    Carried out DC resistivity sounding and data processing and interpretation. Proceeded to Iceland to attend a six month course at the UN Geothermal University on specialised aspects of geothermal energy exploration and exploitation, and submitted a dissertation on Schlumberger sounding.
  3. 1987: Gravity and Resistivity survey:Menengai Bogoria Prospect
    Worked with the United Nations Development Program project investigating the geothermal potential of the Menenga Bogoria region of the Rift Valley. Involved in the collection and compilation of gravity and Resistivity data and preliminary interpretation. Attended a gravity data analysis course at Pisa, Italy.
  4. 1988 – 1989: Gravity, Resistivity and MT survey:Suswa Longonot
    Carried out Schlumberger sounding, gravity and magnetotelluric surveys of Suswa Longonot area of the Rift Valley and initial compilation of results. In early 1989 went to Geotamica Italiana, Pisa, to assist with the interpretation.
  5. 1989: Reconnaissance Work: Baringo area
    Schlumberger survey undertaken in collaboration with a British Geological Survey project investigating the geothermal potential of the northern part of the Rift Valley.
  6. 1990 – 1991: M.Sc. Course in the United Kingdom
    Proceeded to the U.K. for an M.Sc. training on Applied Geophysics. Thesis – Seismic Refraction and Gravity data interpretation from Lake Baringo Region.
  7. 1992 – 1994 Ministry of Energy work and KRISP Crustal Investigations
    Continued working at the Kenya Ministry of Energy processing gravity and resistivity data. Participated in the 1984Kenya Rift Seismological Project on Line in the southern Kenya Rift Valley. I played a major role in recording and drill-site survey, instrument programming, and deployment. I also played the role of a contact person for the British group thus facilitating communication between the Kenya Government and the foreign Scientists (getting permits etc). The project was jointly sponsored by National Science Foundation, USA; International Lithospheric Program, ILP; Germany Research Society, Germany; and National Environmental Research Council, UK.
  8. 1999 (March): Co-operative Research at the Geological Survey of Japan
    Joined the Geothermal department of the Geological Survey of Japan for a one month joint research on application of continuous micro-gravity measurements to geothermal reservoir monitoring.
  9. 2002 – 2003: EAGLE Experiment in Ethiopia
    Research Assistant (University of Texas). East African Rift International Geo-scientific and Lithospheric Project. Seismic and gravity profiling from the along and across the Ethiopian part of the East African Rift.
  10. 2004 – 2006: Surface Exploration at Menengai and North Rift Geothermal Prospects
    Was responsible for coordination of all geophysical surface scientific work on the Menengai, Baringo, Korosi and Paka geothermal prospect areas. This included data quality control and work progress, project expenditure monitoring and project review with other scientists and Report writing. Results from these investigations have been used to site new wellsfor drilling.

Conferences And Workshops

I have participated and presented papers in numerous conferences and workshops. These have included:

  • 6th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2018, Kigali Rwanda.
  • 5th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2016, Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
  • World Geothermal Congress 2015, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 5th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2014, Arusha, Tanzania.
  • 4th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2012, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia.
  • Kenya Energy Conference 2008, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Institute of Engineers in Kenya International Conference 2008, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Third KenGen Technical Seminar 2007, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • World Geothermal Congress 2005, Kyoto, Japan.

Honours And Awards

Was honoured as the best PhD student in 2003 at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the International Geothermal Association.
  • Member of the Geothermal Association of Kenya.
  • Member of the Geological Society of America.
  • Member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Professional Training

  1. 2012: Industrial Relations – facilitated by Federation of Kenya Employers.
  2. 2012: Results-based Management and Performance Indicators – facilitated by SETYM Int.
  3. 2012: Performance Evaluation – facilitated by Raiser Resource Group.
  4. 2007:Training of Trainers teaching workshop on effective teaching methods, Kenya Institute of Administration, Nairobi.
  5. 2001:Performance Appraisal Management, sponsored by Consultants for Effective Training Ltd, Nairobi, Kenya.
  6. 1997: Development of Advanced Management Strategies and Customer Care, sponsored by Peat and Marwick, Nairobi, Kenya.
  7. 1995: Development of Management Strategies and Performance Enhancement, sponsored by Peat and Marwick, Nairobi, Kenya.
  8. 1988:Well logging and Log Analysis (Geophysical logging techniques for low and temperature wells), sponsored by Petro-Canada International, Nairobi, Kenya.
  9. 1986: Geothermal Exploration Methods – facilitated by United Nations University-GTP.

Computer Skills

Applications: MS Office Suite (Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint), Surfer and Grapher.

Student Supervision

  1. External Theses Reviews
    • Wamriew Daniel Stephen – Kenyatta University (2018) – Thesis entitled “Magnetotelluric and Transient Electromagnetic Imaging for Geothermal Resources in Arus-Bogoria Area in Kenya”.
    • Seurey Paul – Kenyatta University (2017) – Thesis entitled “Assessment of the Geothermal Energy Potential of Lake Baringo Area using the Magnetic Method”.
    • Njeru Rita Mwendia – Egerton University (2016) – Thesis entitled “Geophysical Investigation of Faults and Fractures in Kiamunyi Area S-W of Menengai Volcano in the Kenya Rift”.
    • Obonyo Odero Evance – JKUAT (2016) – Integrated Geophysical Techniques for Ground Water Potential Evaluation in Matuu: Machakos County, Kenya.
    • Mulumbu Elly Bogi – JKUAT (2016) – “2-D Controlled Source Seismic Mapping of the Low Velocity Layer of Block 14T in Magadi, Kenya”.
  2. PhD Supervision
    • Macharia Mary Wandia – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (2018) – dissertation entitled: Modelling of Geothermal Potential Areas along part of the Kenyan Rift using Remote Sensing and GIS.
    • Mulwa Kyalo Josephat (2011) – University of Nairobi – dissertation entitled “Integrated geophysical studies of the Lake Bogoria Geothermal Prospect”.
  3. MSc Supervision
    • Namaswa Solomon – (2018) – “Characterization of Natural Radioactivity Systematics in Olkaria Geothermal System: Environmental Implications”.
    • Nahshon Nyambane – University of Nairobi (2014) – Thesis entitled “Optimization of Olkaria II Geothermal Power Plant by Hybridization of Cooling System through Energy and Exergy Concepts”.
    • Namaswa Solomon Wangila – Kenyatta University (2012) – thesis entitled – “Mapping of Nakaporon Fault in Korosi Geothermal Prospect”.
    • Abuga Vincent – Kenyatta University (2011) – Thesis entitled “Geophysical Investigation of Mbeu Iron Ore deposit in Meru County using gravity method”.
    • Langat Kipkemoi Geofrey – Kenyatta University (2011) – thesis entitled “Gravity survey for Geothermal Exploration in Menengai area, Kenya”.
    • Daniel Saitet – Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (2011) – thesis entitled “Conceptual Model of Menengai Geothermal Prospect –an update from new MT and TEM data”.
    • Nganga B. Wangombe – Kenyatta University (2011) – thesis entitled “Estimation of fracture parameters using thermal decay of flourescene numerical modeling”.
    • Moustapha Kassim – Kenyatta University (2011) – thesis entitled “Magnetic studies of iron ore mineral deposits in Mbeu area, Meru County.
    • Adero Otieno – University (2011) – thesis entitled “Investigations into the permeability and tectonic lineaments of Homa Hills geothermal prospect using magnetic method.
    • Odek Antony – Kenyatta University (2010) – thesis entitled “Mapping Geothermal Heat Source in Homa Hills using gravity technique.
    • Kemei Kiprotich Josephat- Kenyatta University (2010) – thesis entitled “Ground Magnetic survey for Geothermal Exploration in Menengai area, Kenya”.
  4. On Going
  • Sirma Chebet Ruth – Egerton University – thesis entitled “An Integrated Analysis of the Geothermal Potential of the North West Olkaria Field using Magnetotelluric (MT) and Transient Electromagnetics (TEM)”.
  • Muthuuri Mathew Arthur – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Three Dimensional Inversion of MT Resistivity Data to Image Geothermal Systems: Case Study, Korosi Geothermal Prospect”.
  • Gichira Joseph Muthii – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Identifying Permeability Controls By Use Of Gravity Method In Menengai Geothermal Field, Kenya”.
  • Mwakirani Raymond Mwalugha – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Resistivity Imaging of Geothermal Resources Using 1-D and 3-D MT Inversion – Case Study Suswa Volcano, Kenya”.
  • Omiti Ammon Ojwang – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Investigation of Geological Structures using Electromagnetic and Gravity Methods on Petrel Platform”
  • Kaloki, M. B., – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Geophysical Mapping of Electrical Resistivity in Kyamwilu Area, Machakos, Kenya, Using the Schlumberger Method”.
  • Mutero, T.N. – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Wellhead Power Plants Improvement by Introduction of Double Flashing Cycle”.
  • Mutua, J. M. – Dedan Kimathi University of Technology – “Investigation of The Southern Extent of The Heat Source at Longonot Volcano Using Gravity and Magnetics”.

List Of Papers In Refered Journals And Books

  1. Macharia, M.W., Gachari, M.K., Mariita, N.O., Mundia, C.N., & Kuria, D.N., 2018. GIS-Based Approach for Exploring Geothermal Resources Along Part of the Kenyan Rift. Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology for Development. JASETD, Volume 3, Issue 1, April 2018, pp. 1-34.
  2. Macharia M., Gachari M., Kuria D., Mariita N.O., 2017. Low cost geothermal energy indicators and exploration methods. Journal of Geography and Regional Planning; Vol. 10(9), pp. 254-265.
  3. Namaswa, S.W, Mariita, N.O., Onyancha, D. Kananu, J. and Kokonya, E.S., 2017. Analysis of Natural Radioactivity Systematic in Olkaria Geothermal Field, and Its Implications to the Environment. Africa Journal of Earth Sciences.
  4. Obando, J.A., Onywere, S., Chisanya, C., Ndubi, A., Masiga, D., Irura, Z., Mariita, N.O., Maragia, H. 2016. Impact of Short Term Flooding on Livelihoods in the Kenya Rift Valley Lakes. Geomorphology and Society, Chap 12, pg 193-215, Advances in Geographical and Environmental Sciences, Springer.
  5. Mulwa, J. K., and Mariita N.O. 2013. A comparative analysis of gravity and micro-seismic results from Arus-Bogoria geothermal prospect, Kenya. Scholarly Journal of Scientific Research and Essay (SJSRE) Vol. 2(6), pp. 77-84
  6. Mariita, N. O., and Keller, G.R., 2007. An Integrated Geophysical Study of the northern Kenya Rift. Journal of African Earth Sciences, Volume 48, Issues 2–3, June 2007, Pages 80–94.
  7. Mariita N. O., 2002. The impact of large-scale renewable energy development on the poor: environmental and socio-economic impact of a geothermal power plant on a poor rural community in Kenya. Energy Policy, Vol 30 Issues 11-12, pages 1119-1128.

List Of Papers In Conference Proceedings

  1. Mariita N.O., 2016. Potential for Small Scale Direct Applications of Geothermal Fluids in Kenya’s Rift Valley – An Update from Geopower Africa Project. Proceedings 5th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2016, Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
  2. Mariita N. O., 2015. Status and Challenges in Training on Geothermal Energy in Africa. Proceedings of World Geothermal Congress, Melbourne, Australia, 2015.
  3. Mariita N. O., 2014. Collaboration between Industry and Universities in Geothermal Energy Training in Africa – a case for Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. Proceedings 5th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2014, Arusha, Tanzania.
  4. Mariita N. O., 2012. Bridging the Skills Gap: Addressing the Lack of Technological and Professional Expertise in the Geothermal Sector – Kenya’s Experience. Proceedings 4th African Rift Geothermal Conference 2012, Nairobi, Kenya.
  5. Mariita N. O., 2010. An Update on Applications to Direct-uses of Geothermal Energy Development in Kenya. Proceedings World Geothermal Congress, Bali, Indonesia, 2010.
  6. Mariita N. O., 2008. Contribution to Vision 2030 through Enhanced Geothermal Energy Expansion. Proceedings Kenya Energy Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, 2008.
  7. Mariita N. O., 2008. The Role of the Geophysicist in the Geothermal Industry. Proceedings Institute of Engineers in Kenya International Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, 2008.
  8. Mariita, N. O., 2007. Status and Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research Between KenGen, National Laboratories and Universities. Proceedings Third KenGen Technical Seminar, Nairobi, Kenya, 2007.
  9. Mariita N. O., 2000. Application of Precision Gravity Measurement to Reservoir Monitoring of Olkaria Geothermal Field. Proceedings World Geothermal Congress, Kyoto, Japan, 2010.