, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 667-681
Date: 15 Nov 2012

Reservoir-induced seismicity in the Longtan reservoir, southwestern China

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Abstract

A pronounced increase in seismicity started in and around Longtan reservoir, southwestern China after October 1, 2006 when it began the impoundment, and by the end of May 14, 2010, about 3,233 earthquakes with −0.6 ≤ M L ≤ 4.2 had been located. This seismicity which occurred in five clusters mainly concentrated in the areas where few earthquakes had occurred before the first filling. There were four water filling periods in the Longtan reservoir, and the observed reservoir-induced seismicity (RIS) shows a strong correlation with the filling cycles. After the first filling, there appears to be an instant undrained response due to an elastic response to the reservoir load in the third and fourth cluster. Then, this seismicity is followed by a delayed, drained response due to pore pressure diffusion, with the seismicity migrating outwards in one or more directions in the second and third filling period. The seismic diffusivity (α s) we estimated is about 4.54 × 105 cm2/s. The activity levels in the five clusters are different due to differences in the structures and permeabilities of the faults. The delayed seismic response to the filling in the third cluster was due to the combined effects of the lack of local fault intersecting the reservoir and lower permeability of the rock. The b value we obtained for reservoir-induced events was significantly different and higher than that of pre-impoundment natural tectonic earthquakes in the Longtan reservoir. The results of relocated earthquakes based on double difference earthquake location algorithm showed that their focal depths were mainly shallower than about 10 km and the distribution of relocated RIS in four clusters had no relation with these intersecting faults in the Longtan reservoir except the fifth cluster. All these characteristics of RIS in the Longtan reservoir indicate that they may relate to the coupled poroelastic response that includes both pore pressure diffusion and an undrained response, but the pore pressure diffusion and the water permeation appear to play a more important role on inducing the earthquakes in Longtan reservoir.