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Title: Fault activation and induced seismicity in geological carbon storage – Lessons learned from recent modeling studies

Abstract

In the light of current concerns related to induced seismicity associated with geological carbon sequestration (GCS), this paper summarizes lessons learned from recent modeling studies on fault activation, induced seismicity, and potential for leakage associated with deep underground carbon dioxide (CO 2) injection. Model simulations demonstrate that seismic events large enough to be felt by humans require brittle fault properties and continuous fault permeability allowing pressure to be distributed over a large fault patch to be ruptured at once. Heterogeneous fault properties, which are commonly encountered in faults intersecting multilayered shale/sandstone sequences, effectively reduce the likelihood of inducing felt seismicity and also effectively impede upward CO 2 leakage. A number of simulations show that even a sizable seismic event that could be felt may not be capable of opening a new flow path across the entire thickness of an overlying caprock and it is very unlikely to cross a system of multiple overlying caprock units. Site-specific model simulations of the In Salah CO 2 storage demonstration site showed that deep fractured zone responses and associated microseismicity occurred in the brittle fractured sandstone reservoir, but at a very substantial reservoir overpressure close to the magnitude of the least principal stress. Wemore » conclude by emphasizing the importance of site investigation to characterize rock properties and if at all possible to avoid brittle rock such as proximity of crystalline basement or sites in hard and brittle sedimentary sequences that are more prone to injection-induced seismicity and permanent damage.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [1];  [4]; ORCiD logo [5];  [1];  [6]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), Zurich (Switzerland)
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Univ. of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Nice (France)
  4. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Tierra, Morelia (Mexico)
  5. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), Zurich (Switzerland)
  6. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA), Barcelona (Spain)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
OSTI Identifier:
1393278
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1393090
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 1674-7755
Publisher:
Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering - Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; Carbon dioxide (CO2) injection; Fault rupture; Induced seismicity; Ground motion; Leakage; Modeling

Citation Formats

Rutqvist, Jonny, Rinaldi, Antonio P., Cappa, Frederic, Jeanne, Pierre, Mazzoldi, Alberto, Urpi, Luca, Guglielmi, Yves, and Vilarrasa, Victor. Fault activation and induced seismicity in geological carbon storage – Lessons learned from recent modeling studies. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.09.001.
Rutqvist, Jonny, Rinaldi, Antonio P., Cappa, Frederic, Jeanne, Pierre, Mazzoldi, Alberto, Urpi, Luca, Guglielmi, Yves, & Vilarrasa, Victor. Fault activation and induced seismicity in geological carbon storage – Lessons learned from recent modeling studies. United States. doi:10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.09.001.
Rutqvist, Jonny, Rinaldi, Antonio P., Cappa, Frederic, Jeanne, Pierre, Mazzoldi, Alberto, Urpi, Luca, Guglielmi, Yves, and Vilarrasa, Victor. Tue . "Fault activation and induced seismicity in geological carbon storage – Lessons learned from recent modeling studies". United States. doi:10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.09.001.
@article{osti_1393278,
title = {Fault activation and induced seismicity in geological carbon storage – Lessons learned from recent modeling studies},
author = {Rutqvist, Jonny and Rinaldi, Antonio P. and Cappa, Frederic and Jeanne, Pierre and Mazzoldi, Alberto and Urpi, Luca and Guglielmi, Yves and Vilarrasa, Victor},
abstractNote = {In the light of current concerns related to induced seismicity associated with geological carbon sequestration (GCS), this paper summarizes lessons learned from recent modeling studies on fault activation, induced seismicity, and potential for leakage associated with deep underground carbon dioxide (CO2) injection. Model simulations demonstrate that seismic events large enough to be felt by humans require brittle fault properties and continuous fault permeability allowing pressure to be distributed over a large fault patch to be ruptured at once. Heterogeneous fault properties, which are commonly encountered in faults intersecting multilayered shale/sandstone sequences, effectively reduce the likelihood of inducing felt seismicity and also effectively impede upward CO2 leakage. A number of simulations show that even a sizable seismic event that could be felt may not be capable of opening a new flow path across the entire thickness of an overlying caprock and it is very unlikely to cross a system of multiple overlying caprock units. Site-specific model simulations of the In Salah CO2 storage demonstration site showed that deep fractured zone responses and associated microseismicity occurred in the brittle fractured sandstone reservoir, but at a very substantial reservoir overpressure close to the magnitude of the least principal stress. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of site investigation to characterize rock properties and if at all possible to avoid brittle rock such as proximity of crystalline basement or sites in hard and brittle sedimentary sequences that are more prone to injection-induced seismicity and permanent damage.},
doi = {10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.09.001},
journal = {Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering},
number = 6,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Sep 20 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Tue Sep 20 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.09.001

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  • In the light of current concerns related to induced seismicity associated with geological carbon sequestration (GCS), this paper summarizes lessons learned from recent modeling studies on fault activation, induced seismicity, and potential for leakage associated with deep underground carbon dioxide (CO 2) injection. Model simulations demonstrate that seismic events large enough to be felt by humans require brittle fault properties and continuous fault permeability allowing pressure to be distributed over a large fault patch to be ruptured at once. Heterogeneous fault properties, which are commonly encountered in faults intersecting multilayered shale/sandstone sequences, effectively reduce the likelihood of inducing felt seismicitymore » and also effectively impede upward CO 2 leakage. A number of simulations show that even a sizable seismic event that could be felt may not be capable of opening a new flow path across the entire thickness of an overlying caprock and it is very unlikely to cross a system of multiple overlying caprock units. Site-specific model simulations of the In Salah CO 2 storage demonstration site showed that deep fractured zone responses and associated microseismicity occurred in the brittle fractured sandstone reservoir, but at a very substantial reservoir overpressure close to the magnitude of the least principal stress. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of site investigation to characterize rock properties and if at all possible to avoid brittle rock such as proximity of crystalline basement or sites in hard and brittle sedimentary sequences that are more prone to injection-induced seismicity and permanent damage.« less
  • We conducted three-dimensional coupled fluid-flow and geomechanical modeling of fault activation and seismicity associated with hydraulic fracturing stimulation of a shale-gas reservoir. We simulated a case in which a horizontal injection well intersects a steeply dip- ping fault, with hydraulic fracturing channeled within the fault, during a 3-hour hydraulic fracturing stage. Consistent with field observations, the simulation results show that shale-gas hydraulic fracturing along faults does not likely induce seismic events that could be felt on the ground surface, but rather results in numerous small microseismic events, as well as aseismic deformations along with the fracture propagation. The calculated seismicmore » moment magnitudes ranged from about -2.0 to 0.5, except for one case assuming a very brittle fault with low residual shear strength, for which the magnitude was 2.3, an event that would likely go unnoticed or might be barely felt by humans at its epicenter. The calculated moment magnitudes showed a dependency on injection depth and fault dip. We attribute such dependency to variation in shear stress on the fault plane and associated variation in stress drop upon reactivation. Our simulations showed that at the end of the 3-hour injection, the rupture zone associated with tensile and shear failure extended to a maximum radius of about 200 m from the injection well. The results of this modeling study for steeply dipping faults at 1000 to 2500 m depth is in agreement with earlier studies and field observations showing that it is very unlikely that activation of a fault by shale-gas hydraulic fracturing at great depth (thousands of meters) could cause felt seismicity or create a new flow path (through fault rupture) that could reach shallow groundwater resources.« less
  • Cited by 23
  • We have conducted numerical simulation studies to assess the potential for injection-induced fault reactivation and notable seismic events associated with shale-gas hydraulic fracturing operations. The modeling is generally tuned towards conditions usually encountered in the Marcellus shale play in the Northeastern US at an approximate depth of 1500 m (~;;4,500 feet). Our modeling simulations indicate that when faults are present, micro-seismic events are possible, the magnitude of which is somewhat larger than the one associated with micro-seismic events originating from regular hydraulic fracturing because of the larger surface area that is available for rupture. The results of our simulations indicatedmore » fault rupture lengths of about 10 to 20 m, which, in rare cases can extend to over 100 m, depending on the fault permeability, the in situ stress field, and the fault strength properties. In addition to a single event rupture length of 10 to 20 m, repeated events and aseismic slip amounted to a total rupture length of 50 m, along with a shear offset displacement of less than 0.01 m. This indicates that the possibility of hydraulically induced fractures at great depth (thousands of meters) causing activation of faults and creation of a new flow path that can reach shallow groundwater resources (or even the surface) is remote. The expected low permeability of faults in producible shale is clearly a limiting factor for the possible rupture length and seismic magnitude. In fact, for a fault that is initially nearly-impermeable, the only possibility of larger fault slip event would be opening by hydraulic fracturing; this would allow pressure to penetrate the matrix along the fault and to reduce the frictional strength over a sufficiently large fault surface patch. However, our simulation results show that if the fault is initially impermeable, hydraulic fracturing along the fault results in numerous small micro-seismic events along with the propagation, effectively preventing larger events from occurring. Nevertheless, care should be taken with continuous monitoring of induced seismicity during the entire injection process to detect any runaway fracturing along faults.« less