Analysis of induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs – An overview

By: , and 



In this overview we report results of analysing induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs in various tectonic settings within the framework of the European Geothermal Engineering Integrating Mitigation of Induced Seismicity in Reservoirs (GEISER) project. In the reconnaissance phase of a field, the subsurface fault mapping, in situ stress and the seismic network are of primary interest in order to help assess the geothermal resource. The hypocentres of the observed seismic events (seismic cloud) are dependent on the design of the installed network, the used velocity model and the applied location technique. During the stimulation phase, the attention is turned to reservoir hydraulics (e.g., fluid pressure, injection volume) and its relation to larger magnitude seismic events, their source characteristics and occurrence in space and time. A change in isotropic components of the full waveform moment tensor is observed for events close to the injection well (tensile character) as compared to events further away from the injection well (shear character). Tensile events coincide with high Gutenberg-Richter b-values and low Brune stress drop values. The stress regime in the reservoir controls the direction of the fracture growth at depth, as indicated by the extent of the seismic cloud detected. Stress magnitudes are important in multiple stimulation of wells, where little or no seismicity is observed until the previous maximum stress level is exceeded (Kaiser Effect). Prior to drilling, obtaining a 3D P-wave (Vp) and S-wave velocity (Vs) model down to reservoir depth is recommended. In the stimulation phase, we recommend to monitor and to locate seismicity with high precision (decametre) in real-time and to perform local 4D tomography for velocity ratio (Vp/Vs). During exploitation, one should use observed and model induced seismicity to forward estimate seismic hazard so that field operators are in a position to adjust well hydraulics (rate and volume of the fluid injected) when induced events start to occur far away from the boundary of the seismic cloud.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Analysis of induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs – An overview
Series title Geothermics
DOI 10.1016/j.geothermics.2014.06.005
Volume 52
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 6
Last page 21