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Title: Seismic Fracture Characterization Methodologies for Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Executive Summary The overall objective of this work was the development of surface and borehole seismic methodologies using both compressional and shear waves for characterizing faults and fractures in Enhanced Geothermal Systems. We used both surface seismic and vertical seismic profile (VSP) methods. We adapted these methods to the unique conditions encountered in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) creation. These conditions include geological environments with volcanic cover, highly altered rocks, severe structure, extreme near surface velocity contrasts and lack of distinct velocity contrasts at depth. One of the objectives was the development of methods for identifying more appropriate seismic acquisition parameters for overcoming problems associated with these geological factors. Because temperatures up to 300º C are often encountered in these systems, another objective was the testing of VSP borehole tools capable of operating at depths in excess of 1,000 m and at temperatures in excess of 200º C. A final objective was the development of new processing and interpretation techniques based on scattering and time-frequency analysis, as well as the application of modern seismic migration imaging algorithms to seismic data acquired over geothermal areas. The use of surface seismic reflection data at Brady's Hot Springs was found useful in building amore » geological model, but only when combined with other extensive geological and geophysical data. The use of fine source and geophone spacing was critical in producing useful images. The surface seismic reflection data gave no information about the internal structure (extent, thickness and filling) of faults and fractures, and modeling suggests that they are unlikely to do so. Time-frequency analysis was applied to these data, but was not found to be significantly useful in their interpretation. Modeling does indicate that VSP and other seismic methods with sensors located at depth in wells will be the most effective seismic tools for getting information on the internal structure of faults and fractures in support of fluid flow pathway management and EGS treatment. Scattered events similar to those expected from faults and fractures are seen in the VSP reported here. Unfortunately, the source offset and well depth coverage do not allow for detailed analysis of these events. This limited coverage also precluded the use of advanced migration and imaging algorithms. More extensive acquisition is needed to support fault and fracture characterization in the geothermal reservoir at Brady's Hot Springs. The VSP was effective in generating interval velocity estimates over the depths covered by the array. Upgoing reflection events are also visible in the VSP results at locations corresponding to reflection events in the surface seismic. Overall, the high temperature rated fiber optic sensors used in the VSP produced useful results. Modeling has been found useful in the interpretation of both surface reflection seismic and VSP data. It has helped identify possible near surface scattering in the surface seismic data. It has highlighted potential scattering events from deeper faults in the VSP data. Inclusion of more detailed fault and fracture specific stiffness parameters are needed to fully interpret fault and fracture scattered events for flow properties (Pyrak-Nolte and Morris, 2000, Zhu and Snieder, 2002). Shear wave methods were applied in both the surface seismic reflection and VSP work. They were not found to be effective in the Brady's Hot Springs area. This was due to the extreme attenuation of shear waves in the near surface at Brady's. This does not imply that they will be ineffective in general. In geothermal areas where good shear waves can be recorded, modeling suggests they should be very useful for characterizing faults and fractures.« less
  1. Hi-Geophysical, Inc., Ponca, OK (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Hi-Geophysical, Inc., Ponca City, OK (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
Contributing Orgs:
Stephen G. Muir, Consulting Geologist and Geophysicist; Ormat Nevada Inc.; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Country of Publication:
United States
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Vertical Seismic Profile; VSP; seismic