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Title: Microseismicity cloud can be substantially larger than the associated stimulated fracture volume: the case of the Paralana Enhanced Geothermal System

The goal of hydraulic stimulation is to increase formation permeability in the near vicinity of a well. However, there remain technical challenges around measuring the outcome of this operation. During two Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) stimulations in South Australia, Paralana in 2011 and Habanero in 2003, extensive catalogs of microseismicity were recovered. It is often assumed that shear failure of existing fractures is the main mechanism behind both the induced earthquakes and any permeability enhancement. This underpins a common notion, that the seismically active volume is also the stimulated reservoir. In this paper, we compute the density of earthquake hypocenters and provide evidence that, under certain conditions, this spatiotemporal quantity is a reasonable proxy for pore pressure increase. We then apply an inverse modeling approach that uses the earthquake observations and a modified reservoir simulator to estimate the parameters of a permeability evolution relation. The regime implied by the data indicates that most permeability enhancement occurred very near to the wellbore and was not coincident with the bulk of the seismicity, whose volume was about two orders of magnitude larger. Thus, we conclude that, in some cases, it is possible for permeability enhancement and induced seismicity to be decoupled, inmore » which case the seismically active volume is a poor indicator of the stimulated reservoir. Our results raise serious questions about the effectiveness of hydroshearing as a stimulation mechanism in EGS. Finally, this study extends our understanding of the complex processes linking earthquakes, fluid pressure, and permeability in both natural and engineered settings.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ;  [2]
  1. Univ. of Auckland (New Zealand). Dept. of Engineering Science
  2. Univ. of Auckland (New Zealand). Dept. of Engineering Science
  3. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2169-9313
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth; Journal ID: ISSN 2169-9313
American Geophysical Union
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; LANL Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES; induced seismicity; EGS; permeability; kinematic inversion; stimulation
OSTI Identifier: