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Micro-seismicity and seismic moment release within the Coso Geothermal Field, California

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Abstract

We relocate 16 years of seismicity in the Coso Geothermal Field (CGF) using differential travel times and simultaneously invert for seismic velocities to improve our knowledge of the subsurface geologic and hydrologic structure. We expand on our previous results by doubling the number of relocated events from April 1996 through May 2012 using a new field-wide 3-D velocity model. Relocated micro-seismicity sharpens in many portions of the active geothermal reservoir, likely defining large-scale fault zones and fluid pressure compartment boundaries. However, a significant fraction of seismicity remains diffuse and does not cluster into sharply defined structures, suggesting that permeability is maintained within the reservoir through distributed brittle failure. The seismic velocity structure reveals heterogeneous distributions of compressional (Vp) and shear (Vs) wave speed, with Vs generally higher in the Main Field and East Flank and Vp remaining relatively uniform across the CGF, but with significant local variations. The Vp/Vs ratio appears to outline the two main producing compartments of the reservoir at depths below mean ground level of approximately 1 to 2.5 km, with a ridge of relatively high Vp/Vs separating the Main Field from the East Flank. Detailed analyses of spatial and temporal variations in earthquake relocations and cumulative seismic moment release in the East Flank reveal three regions with persistently high rates of seismic activity. Two of these regions exhibit sharp, stationary boundaries at the margins of the East Flank that likely represent barriers to fluid flow and advective heat transport. However, seismicity and moment release in a third region at the northern end of the East Flank spread over time to form an elongated NE to SW structure, roughly parallel both to an elongated cluster of seismicity at the southern end of the East Flank and to regional fault traces mapped at the surface. Our results indicate that high-precision relocations of micro-seismicity and simultaneous velocity inversions in conjunction with mapping of seismic moment release can provide useful insights into subsurface structural features and hydrologic compartmentalization within the Coso Geothermal Field.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Title Micro-seismicity and seismic moment release within the Coso Geothermal Field, California
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Stanford University
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Subtype Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings, Thirty-Ninth Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
Conference Title Thirty-Ninth Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
Conference Location Stanford, California
Conference Date February 24-26, 2014
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Coso Geothermal Field