ABSTRACT

We have determined source mechanisms for nine high-quality microseismic events induced during hydraulic fracturing of the Montney Shale in Canada. Seismic data were recorded using a dense regularly spaced grid of sensors at the surface. The design and geometry of the survey are such that the recorded P-wave amplitudes essentially map the upper focal hemisphere, allowing the source mechanism to be interpreted directly from the data. Given the inherent difficulties of computing reliable moment tensors (MTs) from high-frequency microseismic data, the surface amplitude and polarity maps provide important additional confirmation of the source mechanisms. This is especially critical when interpreting non-shear source processes, which are notoriously susceptible to artifacts due to incomplete or inaccurate source modeling. We have found that most of the nine events contain significant non-double-couple (DC) components, as evident in the surface amplitude data and the resulting MT models. Furthermore, we found that source models that are constrained to be purely shear do not explain the data for most events. Thus, even though non-DC components of MTs can often be attributed to modeling artifacts, we argue that they are required by the data in some cases, and can be reliably computed and confidently interpreted under favorable conditions.

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