Energy of injection-induced seismicity predicted from in-situ experiments

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 21;9(1):4999. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41306-x.


The ability to predict the magnitude of an earthquake caused by deep fluid injections is an important factor for assessing the safety of the reservoir storage and the seismic hazard. Here, we propose a new approach to evaluate the seismic energy released during fluid injection by integrating injection parameters, induced aseismic deformation, and the distance of earthquake sources from injection. We use data from ten injection experiments performed at a decameter scale into fault zones in limestone and shale formations. We observe that the seismic energy and the hydraulic energy similarly depend on the injected fluid volume (V), as they both scale as V3/2. They show, however, a large discrepancy, partly related to a large aseismic deformation. Therefore, to accurately predict the released seismic energy, aseismic deformation should be considered in the budget through the residual deformation measured at the injection. Alternatively, the minimal hypocentral distance from injection points and the critical fluid pressure for fault reactivation can be used for a better prediction of the seismic moment in the total compilation of earthquakes observed during these experiments. Complementary to the prediction based only on the injected fluid volume, our approach opens the possibility of using alternative monitoring parameters to improve traffic-light protocols for induced earthquakes and the regulation of operational injection activities.