A detailed view of the injection-induced seismicity in a natural gas reservoir in Zigong, southwestern Sichuan Basin, China

Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (Impact Factor: 3.44). 08/2013; 118(8). DOI: 10.1002/jgrb.50310

ABSTRACT [1] Seismicity at a gas reservoir located in the relatively stable Sichuan Basin, China, mirrors the injection pressure of unwanted water, suggesting that the seismicity is injection induced. Injection under high pressure on a routine basis began on 9 January 2009 and continued to July 2011. During the injection period, over 120,000 m3 of water was pumped under a wellhead pressure of up to 6.2 MPa into the limestone formation of Permian 2.45 to 2.55 km beneath the surface. The injection induced more than 7000 surface-recorded earthquakes, including 2 M4+ (the largest one was ML4.4), 20 M3+, and more than 100 M2+ events. Data observed by a nearby local seismic network and five temporal stations provide a detailed view of the spatiotemporal distribution of the induced earthquakes. Most events were limited to depths ranging from 2.5 to 4 km, which is consistent with the limestone formation of Permian. In a map view, hypocenters are concentrated in a NNW extended ellipsoidal zone approximately 6 km long and approximately 2 km wide centered approximately at the injection well. Multisources of evidence such as the shear mechanism, pattern of hypocenter distribution, and small elevated pore pressure as compared with the least principal stress in the region show that the induced earthquakes occurred as a result of lowering of the effective normal stress on known or unknown preexisting blind faults which are critically loaded under the regional stress field. Epidemic-type aftershock sequence modeling results indicate that injection inducing and earthquake triggering are both important during earlier periods of injection, while later periods are dominated by forced (injection-induced) seismicity.

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    ABSTRACT: Injection-induced seismicity associated with geoengineering applications, in which fluids are intensively pressed into the deep formations of the earth's crust such as Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS), shale gas fracking, geological sequestration of CO2, have attracted growing attentions. Motivated by the desire to better understand the mechanism of damaging events so that they can be avoided or mitigated, we have started an integrated study on rock fracturing and fault reactivation in multiscales. In this paper, we present some preliminary investigation results of an ongoing experimental study utilizing acoustic emission technique in laboratory scale. We systematically carried out rock fracture tests using samples of typical sedimentary rocks collected from the Sichuan Basin, China, where a number of injection-induced seismic swarms with sizable earthquakes ranging up to M4~5 have been observed in some gas/oil reservoirs. Since most injection-induced earthquakes are located in sedimentary strata of a wide range of lithology and depth, the fracturing behaviors of such rocks are thus important. Our results indicate that the Pre-Triassic rocks in the Sichuan Basin, including dolomite or dolomitic limestone and shale demonstrate strong brittle fracturing behaviors in the laboratory. Such properties are necessary conditions for maintaining high level reservoir stress and resulting seismic fracturing.
    ARMS8 - 2014 ISRM International Symposium - 8th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium - Rock Mechanics for Global Issues - Natural Disasters, Environment and Energy -, Sapporo, Japan; 10/2014


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Dec 18, 2014