Interpretations of Reservoir Induced Seismicity may not always be valid: the case of seismicity during the impoundment of the Kremasta dam (Greece, 1965-1966)

S. C. Stiros, S. Pytharouli

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The ‘Kremasta seismic sequence’ in western Greece is one of the most commonly cited examples of Reservoir Induced Seismicity (RIS). Here, we show that this ‘sequence’ is a result of normal tectonic activity and that only some small, unrelated microseismic events are reservoir induced. Shortly after the beginning of the impoundment of the Kremasta Dam in 1965, the then newly established seismic monitoring network in Greece recorded two Ms ≥ 6.0 events and numerous small shocks spread over a 120 km wide region. These were interpreted as a single seismic sequence (namely the Kremasta seismic sequence), and assumed to be reservoir induced. We revisit the epicenter locations of these events and interpret them in the framework of the regional tectonic context and the local hydrogeology. Placing these events into the local context shows that they represent an amalgamation of separate, ordinary (tectonic) seismic sequences. Further, the regional rocks are highly fragmented by small faults and the spatial distribution of seismic events is not consistent with a model of stress transfer from reservoir loading. In addition, it is not likely that events at such long (> 20-30 km) distances from the reservoir could be induced by an initial reservoir load head of 30 m. Whilst the larger magnitude events are tectonic, after impoundment local residents reported an unusual frequency of small microseismic events felt only within 10 km of the dam. We provide evidence that these are a result of the collapse of numerous shallow karstic cavities adjacent and beneath the reservoir due to increased water load (locally 100-150 m depth). This study has significant implications for interpretation of seismic triggering mechanisms in other regions: earthquake occurrence within the proximity of reservoirs during and after impoundment time cannot be assumed to be RIS unless supported by seismological, geological and hydrogeological evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3005-3015
Number of pages11
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number5
Early online date11 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • induced seismicity
  • Kremasta dam
  • cavity collapse
  • karstic voids

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