skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Potential for Induced Seismicity Related to the Northern California CO2 Reduction Project Pilot Test, Solano County, California

Abstract

The objective of this technical report is to analyze the potential for induced seismicity due to a proposed small-scale CO{sub 2} injection project in the Montezuma Hills. We reviewed currently available public information, including 32 years of recorded seismic events, locations of mapped faults, and estimates of the stress state of the region. We also reviewed proprietary geological information acquired by Shell, including seismic reflection imaging in the area, and found that the data and interpretations used by Shell are appropriate and satisfactory for the purpose of this report. The closest known fault to the proposed injection site is the Kirby Hills Fault. It appears to be active, and microearthquakes as large as magnitude 3.7 have been associated with the fault near the site over the past 32 years. Most of these small events occurred 9-17 miles (15-28 km) below the surface, which is deep for this part of California. However, the geographic locations of the many events in the standard seismicity catalog for the area are subject to considerable uncertainty because of the lack of nearby seismic stations; so attributing the recorded earthquakes to motion along any specific fault is also uncertain. Nonetheless, the Kirby Hills Fault is themore » closest to the proposed injection site and is therefore our primary consideration for evaluating the potential seismic impacts, if any, from injection. Our planned installation of seismic monitoring stations near the site will greatly improve earthquake location accuracy. Shell seismic data also indicate two unnamed faults more than 3 miles east of the project site. These faults do not reach the surface as they are truncated by an unconformity at a depth of about 2,000 feet (610 m). The unconformity is identified as occurring during the Oligocene Epoch, 33.9-23.03 million years ago, which indicates that these faults are not currently active. Farther east are the Rio Vista Fault and Midland Fault at distances of about 6 miles (10 km) and 10 miles (16 km), respectively. These faults have been identified as active during the Quaternary (last 1.6 million years), but without evidence of displacement during the Holocene (the last 11,700 years). The stress state (both magnitude and direction) in the region is an important parameter in assessing earthquake potential. Although the available information regarding the stress state is limited in the area surrounding the injection well, the azimuth of the mean maximum horizontal stress is estimated at 41{sup o} and it is consistent with strike-slip faulting on the Kirby Hills Fault, unnamed fault segments to the south, and the Rio Vista Fault. However, there are large variations (uncertainty) in stress estimates, leading to low confidence in these conclusions regarding which fault segments are optimally oriented for potential slip induced by pressure changes. Uncertainty in the stress state can be substantially reduced by measurements planned when wells are drilled at the site. Injection of CO{sub 2} at about two miles depth will result in a reservoir fluid pressure increase, which is greatest at the well and decreases with distance from the well. After the injection stops, reservoir fluid pressures will decrease rapidly. Pressure changes have been predicted quantitatively by numerical simulation models of the injection. Based on these models, the pressure increase on the Kirby Hills Fault at its closest approach to the well due to the injection of 6,000 metric tons of CO{sub 2} would be a few pounds per square inch (psi), which is a tiny fraction of the natural pressure of approximately 5,000 psi at that depth. The likelihood of such a small pressure increase triggering a slip event is very small. It is even more unlikely that events would be induced at the significantly greater depths where most of the recorded earthquakes are concentrated, because it is unlikely that such a small pressure pulse would propagate downwards any appreciable distance. Therefore, in response to the specific question of the likelihood of the CO{sub 2} injection causing a magnitude 3.0 (or larger) event, this preliminary analysis suggests that no such induced or triggered events would be expected. However, it is possible that a fault, too small to be detected by the existing seismic data, yet sufficiently large to cause a magnitude 3 event, could exist in close proximity to the injection point where the pressure increase could cause slippage. However, the existence of such a fault would be detectable in the data planned for collection from the well prior to injection. We do note that natural earthquake events of up to 3.7 in magnitude have occurred in this area and would be expected to occur again regardless of the proposed CO{sub 2} injection.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
Earth Sciences Division
OSTI Identifier:
985910
Report Number(s):
LBNL-3720E
TRN: US201017%%244
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54; 58; ACCURACY; CALIFORNIA; EARTHQUAKES; FRACTURING; INJECTION WELLS; METRICS; MICROEARTHQUAKES; MITIGATION; MONITORING; PUBLIC INFORMATION; REFLECTION; RESERVOIR FLUIDS; SEISMIC EVENTS; SEISMICITY; SLIP; TERTIARY PERIOD

Citation Formats

Myer, L, Chiaramonte, L, Daley, T M, Wilson, D, Foxall, W, and Beyer, J H. Potential for Induced Seismicity Related to the Northern California CO2 Reduction Project Pilot Test, Solano County, California. United States: N. p., 2010. Web. doi:10.2172/985910.
Myer, L, Chiaramonte, L, Daley, T M, Wilson, D, Foxall, W, & Beyer, J H. Potential for Induced Seismicity Related to the Northern California CO2 Reduction Project Pilot Test, Solano County, California. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/985910
Myer, L, Chiaramonte, L, Daley, T M, Wilson, D, Foxall, W, and Beyer, J H. Tue . "Potential for Induced Seismicity Related to the Northern California CO2 Reduction Project Pilot Test, Solano County, California". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/985910. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/985910.
@article{osti_985910,
title = {Potential for Induced Seismicity Related to the Northern California CO2 Reduction Project Pilot Test, Solano County, California},
author = {Myer, L and Chiaramonte, L and Daley, T M and Wilson, D and Foxall, W and Beyer, J H},
abstractNote = {The objective of this technical report is to analyze the potential for induced seismicity due to a proposed small-scale CO{sub 2} injection project in the Montezuma Hills. We reviewed currently available public information, including 32 years of recorded seismic events, locations of mapped faults, and estimates of the stress state of the region. We also reviewed proprietary geological information acquired by Shell, including seismic reflection imaging in the area, and found that the data and interpretations used by Shell are appropriate and satisfactory for the purpose of this report. The closest known fault to the proposed injection site is the Kirby Hills Fault. It appears to be active, and microearthquakes as large as magnitude 3.7 have been associated with the fault near the site over the past 32 years. Most of these small events occurred 9-17 miles (15-28 km) below the surface, which is deep for this part of California. However, the geographic locations of the many events in the standard seismicity catalog for the area are subject to considerable uncertainty because of the lack of nearby seismic stations; so attributing the recorded earthquakes to motion along any specific fault is also uncertain. Nonetheless, the Kirby Hills Fault is the closest to the proposed injection site and is therefore our primary consideration for evaluating the potential seismic impacts, if any, from injection. Our planned installation of seismic monitoring stations near the site will greatly improve earthquake location accuracy. Shell seismic data also indicate two unnamed faults more than 3 miles east of the project site. These faults do not reach the surface as they are truncated by an unconformity at a depth of about 2,000 feet (610 m). The unconformity is identified as occurring during the Oligocene Epoch, 33.9-23.03 million years ago, which indicates that these faults are not currently active. Farther east are the Rio Vista Fault and Midland Fault at distances of about 6 miles (10 km) and 10 miles (16 km), respectively. These faults have been identified as active during the Quaternary (last 1.6 million years), but without evidence of displacement during the Holocene (the last 11,700 years). The stress state (both magnitude and direction) in the region is an important parameter in assessing earthquake potential. Although the available information regarding the stress state is limited in the area surrounding the injection well, the azimuth of the mean maximum horizontal stress is estimated at 41{sup o} and it is consistent with strike-slip faulting on the Kirby Hills Fault, unnamed fault segments to the south, and the Rio Vista Fault. However, there are large variations (uncertainty) in stress estimates, leading to low confidence in these conclusions regarding which fault segments are optimally oriented for potential slip induced by pressure changes. Uncertainty in the stress state can be substantially reduced by measurements planned when wells are drilled at the site. Injection of CO{sub 2} at about two miles depth will result in a reservoir fluid pressure increase, which is greatest at the well and decreases with distance from the well. After the injection stops, reservoir fluid pressures will decrease rapidly. Pressure changes have been predicted quantitatively by numerical simulation models of the injection. Based on these models, the pressure increase on the Kirby Hills Fault at its closest approach to the well due to the injection of 6,000 metric tons of CO{sub 2} would be a few pounds per square inch (psi), which is a tiny fraction of the natural pressure of approximately 5,000 psi at that depth. The likelihood of such a small pressure increase triggering a slip event is very small. It is even more unlikely that events would be induced at the significantly greater depths where most of the recorded earthquakes are concentrated, because it is unlikely that such a small pressure pulse would propagate downwards any appreciable distance. Therefore, in response to the specific question of the likelihood of the CO{sub 2} injection causing a magnitude 3.0 (or larger) event, this preliminary analysis suggests that no such induced or triggered events would be expected. However, it is possible that a fault, too small to be detected by the existing seismic data, yet sufficiently large to cause a magnitude 3 event, could exist in close proximity to the injection point where the pressure increase could cause slippage. However, the existence of such a fault would be detectable in the data planned for collection from the well prior to injection. We do note that natural earthquake events of up to 3.7 in magnitude have occurred in this area and would be expected to occur again regardless of the proposed CO{sub 2} injection.},
doi = {10.2172/985910},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/985910}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2010},
month = {6}
}