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Modelling earthquake location errors at a reservoir scale : a study in the Upper Rhine Graben

Modelling earthquake location errors at a reservoir scale : a study in the Upper Rhine Graben

Auteurs : X.Kinnaert, E.Gaucher, U.Achauer, T.Kohl
Journal : Geophysical Journal International
doi : 10.1093/gji/ggw184

Earthquake absolute location errors which can be encountered in an underground reservoir are investigated. In such an exploitation context, earthquake hypocentre errors can have an impact on the field development and economic consequences. The approach using the state of the art techniques covers both the location uncertainty and the location inaccuracy or bias problematics. It consists, first, in creating a 3-D synthetic seismic cloud of events in the reservoir and calculating the seismic traveltimes to a monitoring network assuming certain propagation conditions. In a second phase, the earthquakes are relocated with assumptions different from the initial conditions. Finally, the initial and relocated hypocentres are compared. As a result, location errors driven by the seismic onset time picking uncertainties and inaccuracies are quantified in 3-D. Effects induced by erroneous assumptions associated with the velocity model are also modelled. In particular, 1-D velocity model uncertainties, a local 3-D perturbation of the velocity and a 3-D geostructural model are considered. The present approach is applied to the site of Rittershoffen (Alsace, France), which is one of the deep geothermal fields existing in the Upper Rhine Graben. This example allows setting realistic scenarios based on the knowledge of the site. In that case, the zone of interest, monitored by an existing seismic network, ranges between 1 and 5 km depth in a radius of 2 km around a geothermal well.Well log data provided a reference 1-D velocity model used for the synthetic earthquake relocation. The 3-D analysis highlights the role played by the seismic network coverage and the velocity model in the amplitude and orientation of the location uncertainties and inaccuracies at subsurface levels. The location errors are neither isotropic nor aleatoric in the zone of interest. This suggests that although location inaccuracies may be smaller than location uncertainties, both quantities can have a cumulative effect. Besides, small velocity uncertainties applied to the whole 1-D profile can lead to large increase of the location uncertainties. However, local variations of the velocity field around the well may have negligible effects that would make such a feature undetectable with an absolute location method. Although the reference 1-D velocity model was built from well log data, the results show that it is not a good representative of a more realistic 3-D model including a fault and its associated block shift. The amplitude and distribution of the induced location inaccuracies are such that the positioning and the orientation of features delineated by seismicity are distorted and may be difficult to correctly interpret.

Lien vers Geophysical Journal International

8 juin 2016