ABSTRACT

Seismic velocities in the shallow crust down to a few kilometers depth show a remarkable sensitivity to stress perturbations due to the presence of compliant pores, cracks, fractures, and faults. Monitoring temporal changes of seismic velocities can thus provide key insights on dynamic processes affecting the shallow crust such as those related to the atmosphere (rainfall, barometric pressure, and temperature) and those with deeper tectonic and volcanic origins. In this work, we investigate the specific response of the near surface down to 300 m depth to atmospheric pressure variations. We conduct a four month passive seismic monitoring experiment in the desert of Oman using continuous noise recorded at geophones located within five wells. The results show a clear, direct correlation between seismic velocities and barometric pressure variations for monthly transients. At a longer, seasonal temporal scale, seismic velocities are stable, whereas atmospheric pressure shows a clear positive trend. We use the undrained coupled poroelastic theory to model these observations and find that the lack of seasonal velocity changes can be partly explained by the atmospheric pressure that diffuses into the pores with a strong hydraulic diffusivity likely higher than 100  m2/s consistent with the local geology referring to carbonates. Finally, the comparison between the modeled and observed velocity changes leads to estimate a velocity–stress sensitivity on the order of 6.3×107  Pa1 which is consistent with previous studies. Using this result for calibration, we find that a sudden step‐change drop of velocity of 0.015% occurring in the beginning of October 2019 and corresponding to a stress perturbation likely larger than 240 Pa affected the entire studied area. This small change could be related to a perturbation at greater depth associated with variations in the production rates within the underlying reservoir.

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