Fluid Induced Earthquakes: Insights from a Hydrogeologic Perspective
Dr. Shemin Ge, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder
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Beginning in the 1960s, pore fluid pressure was identified as the primary culprit for inducing earthquakes reported near deep fluid-injection wells. Induced seismicity has surged in recent decades in central eastern US, yet only a relatively small percentage of injection sites experienced seismicity. Questions arise with regard to what fundamental hydrogeologic and mechanical processes make some sites more prone to induced seismicity than others. This lecture will offer an overview and physical insights of fluid induced seismicity from hydrogeologic and poro-mechanical perspectives. Case studies in Oklahoma and Colorado will be used to illustrate how pore fluid pressure could have played a role in observed seismicity. High rate of fluid injection emerges as an important player in contributing to induced seismicity. While preexisting faults dictate earthquake locations, the spatial extent of pore pressure influence could reach tens of kilometers from fluid injection. Research is on-going to further understand the causal mechanism for induced seismicity and to provide scientific guidance for best practices in the quest for secure energy resource development in coming decades.
Shemin Ge is Professor and Chair in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in 1990, subsequently worked at S.S. Papadopulos and Associates, and joined the University of Colorado in 1993. At the confluence of subsurface fluid flow physics and rock mechanics, Ge’s early research examined the effects of tectonic deformation on paleo-fluid flow systems in sedimentary basins. She moved on to explore earthquake-induced groundwater flow as natural experiments to reveal hydrologic properties of aquifers and explore the mechanisms of seismicity induced by reservoir operation and wastewater injection. Another thread of her research relates to groundwater resources and surface-groundwater interactions under a changing climate with a focus on headwater regions. She also ventured into fracture flow and fault zone hydrology, as well as subsurface thermal energy transport and storage.
Shemin Ge also served the hydrogeologic and broader geoscience communities in various capacities. She was Chair of the Hydrogeology Program Planning Group for the Ocean Drilling Program from 1999 to 2002. She was Editor for Hydrogeology Journal and Associate Editor for Geofluids and Journal of Ground Water. She recently served a two-year term as Program Director for the Hydrologic Sciences Program at the US National Science Foundation. She was the 2016 distinguished Birdsall-Dreiss lecturer for the Geological Society of America Hydrogeology Division.
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