Physics‐based evaluation of the maximum magnitude of potential earthquakes induced by the Hutubi (China) underground gas storage

JGR Solid Earth
By: , and 

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Abstract

The world’s largest underground gas storage facility in Hutubi (HUGS), China, is a unique case where cyclic gas injection‐extraction induced both seismicity and ground deformation. To assess the potential for future induced seismicity, we develop a framework physically based on a well‐constrained hydro‐geomechanical model and on fully coupled poroelastic simulations. We first interpret the spatiotemporal distribution and focal mechanisms of induced earthquakes and use these to estimate the magnitude and location of the largest potential earthquake. The sharp increase in seismicity was controlled by poroelastic loading on secondary southwest‐dipping thrust faults with spatial scales too small to be resolved by 3D seismic surveys. Both operational and local geological factors affect the seismic productivity at the HUGS site, distinguishing it from most cases of seismicity induced by wastewater disposal and hydraulic fracturing. We then conduct slip tendency analyses for major faults imaged by the seismic data, including the largest reservoir‐bounding Hutubi fault hydraulically connected to injection wells. The reactivation potentials of these imaged faults are estimated to be extremely low. Accordingly, future seismicity would most likely occur on failure‐prone secondary faults in regions with positive stress perturbation due to poroelastic loading. The maximum magnitude likely depends on the spatial scales of the secondary faults. As the occurrence of detected earthquakes is spatially and temporally consistent with the simulated evolution of Coulomb stress perturbation, the location of the largest potential earthquake probably depends on the sizes of the poroelastic stressing regions.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Physics‐based evaluation of the maximum magnitude of potential earthquakes induced by the Hutubi (China) underground gas storage
Series title JGR Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/2020JB021379
Volume 126
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description e2020JB021379, 24 p.
Country China
City Hutubi
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