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Title: Hindcasting injection-induced aseismic slip and microseismicity at the Cooper Basin Enhanced Geothermal Systems Project

There is a growing recognition that subsurface fluid injection can produce not only earthquakes, but also aseismic slip on faults. A major challenge in understanding interactions between injection-related aseismic and seismic slip on faults is identifying aseismic slip on the field scale, given that most monitored fields are only equipped with seismic arrays. We present a modeling workflow for evaluating the possibility of aseismic slip, given observational constraints on the spatial-temporal distribution of microseismicity, injection rate, and wellhead pressure. Our numerical model simultaneously simulates discrete off-fault microseismic events and aseismic slip on a main fault during fluid injection. We apply the workflow to the 2012 Enhanced Geothermal System injection episode at Cooper Basin, Australia, which aimed to stimulate a water-saturated granitic reservoir containing a highly permeable ($$k = 10^{-13} - 10^{-12}$$k=10-13-10-12$$\hbox {m}{^2}$$m2) fault zone. We find that aseismic slip likely contributed to half of the total moment release. In addition, fault weakening from pore pressure changes, not elastic stress transfer from aseismic slip, induces the majority of observed microseismic events, given the inferred stress state. We derive a theoretical model to better estimate the time-dependent spatial extent of seismicity triggered by increases in pore pressure. To our knowledge, this is the first time injection-induced aseismic slip in a granitic reservoir has been inferred, suggesting that aseismic slip could be widespread across a range of lithologies.

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Nature Publishing Group
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Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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