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4. Increase of pore pressure above ambient value due to injection of fluids and decrease in pore pressure below ambient value due to extraction of fluids have the potential to produce seismic events. For such activities to cause these events, a certain combination of conditions has to exist simultaneously:

a. Significant change in net pore pressure in a reservoir

b. A preexisting near-critical state of stress along a fracture or fault that is determined by crustal stresses and the fracture or fault orientation

c. Fault rock properties supportive of a brittle failure

5. Independent capability exists for geomechanical modeling of pore pressure, temperature, and rock stress changes induced by injection and extraction and for modeling of earthquake sequences given knowledge of stress changes, pore pressure changes, and fault characteristics.

6. The range of scales over which significant responses arise in the Earth with respect to induced seismic events is very wide and challenges the ability of models to simulate and eventually predict observations from the field.

Research Recommendations

Data Collection—Field and Laboratory

1. Collect, categorize, and evaluate data on potential induced seismic events in the field. High-quality seismic data are central to this effort. Research should identify the key types of data to be collected and the data collection protocol.

2. Conduct research to establish the means of making in situ stress measurements nondestructively.

3. Conduct additional field research on microseismsa in natural fracture systems including field-scale observations of the very small events and their native fractures.

4. Conduct focused research on the effect of temperature variations on stressed jointed rock systems. Although of immediate relevance to geothermal energy projects, the results would benefit understanding of induced seismicity in other energy technologies.

5. Conduct research that might clarify the in situ links among injection rate, pressure, and event size.


1. Conduct research to address the gaps in current knowledge and availability of instrumentation: Such research would allow the geothermal industry, for example, to develop this domestic renewable source more effectively for electricity generation.

Hazard and Risk Assessment

1. Direct research to develop steps for hazard and risk assessment for single energy development projects (as described in Chapter 5, Table 5.2).

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