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Seismicity rate surge on faults after shut-in; poroelastic response to fluid injection

K. W. Chang, H. Yoon and M. J. Martinez
Seismicity rate surge on faults after shut-in; poroelastic response to fluid injection
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (June 2018) 108 (4): 1889-1904


Injection of large amounts of fluid into the subsurface alters the states of pore pressure and stress in the formation, potentially inducing earthquakes. Increase in the seismicity rate after shut-in is often observed at fluid-injection operation sites, but mechanistic study of the rate surge has not been investigated thoroughly. Considering full poroelastic coupling of pore pressure and stress, the earthquake occurrence after shut-in can be driven by two mechanisms: (1) post shut-in diffusion of pore pressure into distant faults and (2) poroelastic stressing caused by fluid injection. Interactions of these mechanisms can depend on fault geometry, hydraulic and mechanical properties of the formation, and injection operation. In this work, a 2D aerial view of the target reservoir intersected by strike-slip basement faults is used to evaluate the impact of injection-induced pressure buildup on seismicity rate surge. A series of sensitivity tests are performed by considering the variation in (1) permeability of the fault zone, (2) locations and the number of faults with respect to the injector, and (3) well operations with time-dependent injection rates. Lower permeability faults have higher seismicity rates than more permeable faults after shut-in due to delayed diffusion and poroelastic stressing. Hydraulic barriers, depending on their relative location to injection, can either stabilize or weaken a conductive fault via poroelastic stresses. Gradual reduction of the injection rate minimizes the coulomb stress change and the least seismicity rates are predicted due to slower relaxation of coupling-induced compression as well as pore-pressure dissipation.

ISSN: 0037-1106
EISSN: 1943-3573
Serial Title: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Serial Volume: 108
Serial Issue: 4
Title: Seismicity rate surge on faults after shut-in; poroelastic response to fluid injection
Affiliation: Sandia National Laboratories, Department of Geomechanics, Albuquerque, NM, United States
Pages: 1889-1904
Published: 20180626
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, Berkeley, CA, United States
References: 53
Accession Number: 2018-057705
Categories: Environmental geologySeismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: Includes appendices
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 3 tables
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201831
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