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Title: Rotation-Enabled 7-Degree of Freedom Seismometer for Geothermal Resource Development. Phase 1 Final Report

Under this Department of Energy (DOE) grant, A-Tech Corporation d.b.a. Applied Technology Associates (ATA), seeks to develop a seven-degree-of-freedom (7-DOF) seismic measurement tool for high-temperature geothermal applications. The Rotational-Enabled 7-DOF Seismometer includes a conventional tri-axial accelerometer, a conventional pressure sensor or hydrophone, and a tri-axial rotational sensor. The rotational sensing capability is novel, based upon ATA's innovative research in rotational sensing technologies. The geothermal industry requires tools for high-precision seismic monitoring of crack formation associated with Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) stimulation activity. Currently, microseismic monitoring is conducted by deploying many seismic tools at different depth levels along a 'string' within drilled observation wells. Costs per string can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Processing data from the spatial arrays of linear seismometers allows back-projection of seismic wave states. In contrast, a Rotational-Enabled 7-DOF Seismometer would simultaneously measure p-wave velocity, s-wave velocity, and incident seismic wave direction all from a single point measurement. In addition, the Rotational-Enabled 7-DOF Seismometer will, by its nature, separate p- and s-waves into different data streams, simplifying signal processing and facilitating analysis of seismic source signatures and geological characterization. By adding measurements of three additional degrees-of-freedom at each level and leveraging the information from this newmore » seismic observable, it is likely that an equally accurate picture of subsurface seismic activity could be garnered with fewer levels per hole. The key cost savings would come from better siting of the well due to increased information content and a decrease in the number of confirmation wells drilled, also due to the increase in information per well. Improved seismic tools may also increase knowledge, understanding, and confidence, thus removing some current blocks to feasibility and significantly increasing access to potential geothermal sites. During the Phase 1 effort summarized in this final report, the ATA Team modeled and built two TRL 3 proof-of-concept test units for two competing rotational sensor technologies. The two competing technologies were based on ATA's angular rate and angular displacement measurement technologies; Angular rate: ATA's Magnetohydrodynamic Angular Rate Sensor (Seismic MHD); and Angular displacement: ATA's Low Frequency Improved Torsional Seismometer (LFITS). In order to down-select between these two technologies and formulate a go / no go decision, the ATA Team analyzed and traded scientific performance requirements and market constraints against sensor characteristics and components, acquiring field data where possible to validate the approach and publishing results from these studies of rotational technology capability. Based on the results of Phase 1, the ATA Team finds that the Seismic MHD (SMHD) technology is the best choice for enabling rotational seismometry and significant technical potential exists for micro-seismic monitoring using a downhole 7-DOF device based on the SMHD. Recent technical papers and field data confirm the potential of rotational sensing for seismic mapping, increasing confidence that cost-reduction benefits are achievable for EGS. However, the market for geothermal rotational sensing is small and undeveloped. As a result, this report recommends modifying the Phase 2 plan to focus on prototype development aimed at partnering with early adopters within the geothermal industry and the scientific research community. The highest public benefit will come from development and deployment of a science-grade SMHD rotational seismometer engineered for geothermal downhole conditions and an integrated test tool for downhole measurements at active geothermal test sites.« less
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  1. Applied Technology Associates, Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
A-Tech Corporation d.b.a. Applied Technology Associates, Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Contributing Orgs:
Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA (United States); Nanometrics, Inc., Milpitas, CA (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY seismometry; rotational ground motion; downhole tool; geothermal monitoring; micro-seismic