Abstract

The Kremasta seismic sequence in western Greece is one of the most commonly cited examples of reservoir‐induced seismicity (RIS). Here, we show that this sequence is a result of normal tectonic activity and that only some small, unrelated microseismic events are reservoir induced. Shortly after the beginning of the impoundment of the Kremasta Dam in 1965, the then newly established seismic monitoring network in Greece recorded two Ms6.0 events and numerous small shocks spread over a 120‐km‐wide region. These were interpreted as a single seismic sequence (namely the Kremasta seismic sequence) and assumed to be reservoir induced. We revisit the epicenter locations of these events and interpret them in the framework of the regional tectonic context and the local hydrogeology. Placing these events into the local context shows that they represent an amalgamation of separate, ordinary (tectonic) seismic sequences. Further, the regional rocks are highly fragmented by small faults and the spatial distribution of seismic events is not consistent with a model of stress transfer from reservoir loading. In addition, it is not likely that events at such long (>2030  km) distances from the reservoir could be induced by an initial reservoir load head of 30 m. Although the larger magnitude events are tectonic, after impoundment local residents reported an unusual frequency of small microseismic events felt only within 10 km of the dam. We provide evidence that these are a result of the collapse of numerous shallow karstic cavities adjacent and beneath the reservoir due to increased water load (locally 100–150 m depth). This study has significant implications for interpretation of seismic triggering mechanisms in other regions: earthquake occurrence within the proximity of reservoirs during and after impoundment time cannot be assumed to be RIS unless supported by seismological, geological, and hydrogeological evidence.

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