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The link between subsurface fluid injection and induced seismicity has gained recent significance with an increase in earthquakes associated with the disposal of oilfield waste fluids. There are obvious similarities between wastewater reinjection and proposed CO2 storage (CCS) operations. However, as well as the seismic hazard, induced seismicity during CCS operations poses additional risks, because an induced event located above the target reservoir could compromise the hydraulic integrity of the caprock. In this paper we re-examine case examples where earthquakes have been induced by wastewater injection into deep aquifers in the light of proposed future CCS operations. In particular we consider possible controls on event magnitudes, and look at the spatial distributions of events. We find that the majority of events are located below the target reservoirs. This is an encouraging observation from the perspective of caprock integrity, although it presents a challenge in terms of pre-injection characterization of deep-lying faults several kilometres below the target zone. We observe that 99% of events are found within 20 km of injection wells, suggesting a minimum radius for geomechanical characterization and monitoring. We conclude by making recommendations for modelling and monitoring strategies to be followed prior to and during commercial-scale deployment of CO2 storage projects.
- induced seismicity
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