Microseismicity illuminates open fractures in the shallow crust

Stella Pytharouli, Rebecca Lunn, Zoe Shipton, James Kirkpatrick, Aderson do Nascimento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Successful delivery of geological carbon storage and/or radioactive waste disposal relies on the ability to predict the transport of waste stored/disposed of at depth, over 103 to 106 years. Field evidence shows that faults and fractures can act as focused pathways for contaminant migration. Hence, transport predictions require detailed characterization of fracture location, orientation and hydraulic properties. We show that microseismic monitoring can delineate the three‐dimensional structure and hydraulic characteristics of flowing fractures at 2 to 3 km depth. Individual fracture planes are validated by independently derived composite focal mechanisms. Local field observations confirm the presence of open fractures with lengths and orientations matching the seismically‐derived fracture planes. The temporal evolution of seismicity within individual fractures allows us to estimate depth‐averaged transmissivity and in‐plane fluid velocity distributions. Our results demonstrate the potential of microseismic monitoring to characterize flowing fractures, for non‐invasive site investigation at CO2 and radioactive waste storage/disposal sites.
LanguageEnglish
Article numberL02402
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2011

Fingerprint

crusts
crust
radioactive wastes
hydraulics
radioactive waste
waste disposal
transmissivity
disposal
site investigation
monitoring
focal mechanism
hydraulic property
temporal evolution
carbon sequestration
contaminants
seismicity
delivery
velocity distribution
composite materials
fluid

Keywords

  • shallow crust
  • radioactive waste disposal
  • geological carbon storage
  • microearthquakes
  • geophysics
  • fractures

Cite this

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Microseismicity illuminates open fractures in the shallow crust. / Pytharouli, Stella; Lunn, Rebecca; Shipton, Zoe; Kirkpatrick, James; do Nascimento, Aderson.

In: Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, L02402, 29.01.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Pytharouli, Stella

AU - Lunn, Rebecca

AU - Shipton, Zoe

AU - Kirkpatrick, James

AU - do Nascimento, Aderson

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AB - Successful delivery of geological carbon storage and/or radioactive waste disposal relies on the ability to predict the transport of waste stored/disposed of at depth, over 103 to 106 years. Field evidence shows that faults and fractures can act as focused pathways for contaminant migration. Hence, transport predictions require detailed characterization of fracture location, orientation and hydraulic properties. We show that microseismic monitoring can delineate the three‐dimensional structure and hydraulic characteristics of flowing fractures at 2 to 3 km depth. Individual fracture planes are validated by independently derived composite focal mechanisms. Local field observations confirm the presence of open fractures with lengths and orientations matching the seismically‐derived fracture planes. The temporal evolution of seismicity within individual fractures allows us to estimate depth‐averaged transmissivity and in‐plane fluid velocity distributions. Our results demonstrate the potential of microseismic monitoring to characterize flowing fractures, for non‐invasive site investigation at CO2 and radioactive waste storage/disposal sites.

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KW - radioactive waste disposal

KW - geological carbon storage

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KW - geophysics

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