Magnitude distribution complexity and variation at The Geysers geothermal field

Leptokaropoulos, Konstantinos Michail (2020) Magnitude distribution complexity and variation at The Geysers geothermal field. Geophysical Journal International, 222 (2). pp. 893-906. DOI:

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Earthquake magnitude (size) distribution is a major component required for seismic hazard assessment and therefore, the accurate determination of its functional shape and variation is a task of utmost importance. Although often considered as stationary, the magnitude distribution at particular sites may significantly vary over time and space. In this study, the well-known Gutenberg–Richter (GR) law, which is widely assumed to describe earthquake magnitude distribution, is tested for a case study of seismicity induced by fluid injection at The Geysers (CA, USA) geothermal field. Statistical tests are developed and applied in order to characterize the magnitude distribution of a high quality catalogue comprising seismicity directly associated with two injection wells, at the north western part of The Geysers. The events size distribution variation is investigated with respect to spatial, temporal, fluid injection and magnitude cut-off criteria. A thorough spatio-temporal analysis is performed for defining seismicity Clusters demonstrating characteristic magnitude distributions which significantly differ from the ones of the nearby Clusters. The magnitude distributions of the entire seismic population as well as of the individual Clusters are tested for their complexity in terms of exponentiality, multimodal and multibump structure. Then, the Clusters identified are further processed and their characteristics are determined in connection to injection rate fluctuations. The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the entire magnitude distribution is definitely complex and non-exponential, whereas subsequent periods demonstrating significantly diverse magnitude distributions are identified. The regional seismicity population is divided into three major families, for one of which exponentiality of magnitude distribution is clearly rejected, whereas for the other two the GR law b-value is directly proportional to fluid injection. In addition, the b-values of these Families seem to be significantly magnitude dependent, a fact that is of major importance for seismic hazard assessment implementations. To conclude, it is strongly suggested that magnitude exponentiality must be tested before proceeding to any b-value calculations, particularly in anthropogenic seismicity cases where complex and time changeable processes take place.

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Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hydrothermal systems; Probability distributions; Induced seismicity; Statistical seismology
Subjects: Methodology > Method and procesing > Collective properties of seismicity
Region > USA > California > Geysers
Inducing technology > Geothermal energy production
Project: EPOS-IP > THE GEYSERS Prati 9 and Prati 29 cluster: Treated wastewater injection for geothermal power production