pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 122, Issue 6, pp 947–965 | Cite as

Pore pressure diffusion and the mechanism of reservoir-induced seismicity

  • Pradeep Talwani
  • Steve Acree


The study of reservoir-induced seismicity offers a controlled setting to understand the physics of the earthquake process. Data from detailed investigations at reservoirs in South Carolina suggested that the mechanism of transmission of stress to hypocentral locations is by a process of diffusion of pore pressure (Pp). These results were compared with available worldwide data. The ‘seismic’ hydraulic diffusivity, α s , was estimated from various seismological observations, and was found to be a good estimate of the material hydraulic diffusivity, α. Application of these results to a dedicated experiment to understand RIS at Monticello Reservoir, S.C., suggested that the diffusing Pp front plays a dual role in the triggering of seismicity. The spatial and temporal pattern of RIS can be explained by the mechanical effect of diffusion of Pp with a characteristic hydraulic diffusivity within an order of magnitude of 5×104 cm2/s, corresponding to permeability values in the millidarcy range. The triggering of seismicity is due to the combined mechanical effect of Pp in reducing the strength and, possibly, the chemical effect in reducing the coefficient of friction between the clays in the pre-existing fractures and the rocks that enclose these fractures.

Key words

Mechanism reservoir induced seismicity 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pradeep Talwani
  • Steve Acree
    • 1
  1. 1.Geology DepartmentUniversity of South CarolinaColumbia

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