Risk management

Analysis of Fluid-Injection-Induced Seismicity Using a Dynamic Sliding Model Incorporating the Rate- and State-Dependent Friction Law

A seismic prediction model is developed and presented in a case study to simulate the magnitude and timing of triggered seismic events with the intent to manage and mitigate environmental impacts resulting from induced seismicity during subsurface development activities.

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Earthquakes can be triggered by fluid injection into underground formations. Fluid injection can cause large changes in the underground volume that exert stresses on nearby preexisting faults, leading to seismic activity. Assuming an increase in underground development activities in the future, our understanding of the mechanism underlying induced seismicity must be improved, and methods must be developed to properly assess the risk of seismic events. The objective of this study is to develop a seismicity prediction model that calculates the magnitude and timing of triggered earthquakes or seismic events occurring during various subsurface fluid injection activities.

We developed an injection-induced seismicity analysis model that predicts the dynamic earthquake nucleation caused by changes in stress and pore pressure that occur during various subsurface activities. The governing equations consisting of the dynamic motion of the poroelastic spring-slider system, rate and state friction laws and pore pressure diffusion equation were solved using the embedded semi-implicit Runge-Kutta method. The dynamic sliding model was also incorporated into the finite element method (FEM) model, considering the variations in the stresses and pore pressures in the formation. A field case study was also conducted to compare the model results with typical microseismicity responses observed from hydraulic fracturing treatments in shale fields.

Contrary to the popular understanding derived from Amonton’s law, the dynamic friction model revealed that a large normal stress on the fault leads to rapid sliding. A larger normal stress accumulates a large amount of elastic energy until it slips owing to fluid injection, nucleating large seismic waves. The poroelastic spring-slider model estimated reasonable microseismic magnitudes for hydraulic fracturing treatment but overestimated the time required to trigger a microseismic event under field conditions. To improve the analysis results, the poroelastic spring-slider model was coupled with a linear elastic FEM that considered the complex interplay of stress changes from hydraulic fracturing and the associated pore pressure variation in the formation. Compared with the field data, the coupled simulation model estimated a reasonable timing for the induced microseismic events when the increasing pore pressure during hydraulic fracturing penetrated deep into the formation. These findings suggest the existence of permeable natural fractures in the formation, which intensify early frictional sliding during treatment.

The seismicity prediction model presented in this study simulates the magnitude and timing of seismic nucleation, helping to manage and mitigate the environmental impacts of induced seismicity during various subsurface development activities, such as oil and gas extraction, hydraulic fracturing, geothermal, and carbon dioxide sequestration. Moreover, the case study results imply that the time series of seismic events predicted by the model can be used to understand the possible fracture geometry and extent of fluid invasion for field applications.

This abstract is taken from paper SPE 214891 by S. Ito and K. Furui, Waseda University, and K. Tsusaka, INPEX Corporation. The paper has been peer reviewed and is available as Open Access in SPE Journal on OnePetro.