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Anthropogenic Seismicity Rates and Operational Parameters at the Salton Sea Geothermal Field

Science  11 Jul 2013:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1239213

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Abstract

Geothermal power is a growing energy source; however, efforts to increase production are tempered by concern over induced earthquakes. Although increased seismicity commonly accompanies geothermal production, induced earthquake rate cannot currently be forecast based on fluid injection volumes or any other operational parameters. We show that at the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, the total volume of fluid extracted or injected tracks the long-term evolution of seismicity. After correcting for the aftershock rate, the net fluid volume (extracted-injected) provides the best correlation with seismicity in recent years. We model the background earthquake rate with a linear combination of injection and net production rates that allows us to track the secular development of the field as the number of earthquakes per fluid volume injected decreases over time.

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