pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 139, Issue 3–4, pp 507–534 | Cite as

Mechanics of seismic instabilities induced by the recovery of hydrocarbons

  • J. -R. Grasso
Article

Abstract

We review earthquake distributions associated with hydrocarbon fields in the context of pore pressure diffusion models, poroelastic stress transfer and isostasy theory. These three mechanisms trigger or induce seismic instabilities at both local scale (D≤5 km) and at regional scale (D≥20 km). The modeled changes in stress are small (≤1 MPa), whatever the tectonic setting. Each mechanism corresponds to different production processes. (1) Local hydraulic fracturing due to fluid injection induces seismic-slip on cracks (ML≤3) within the injected reservoir through decreasing the effective stress. (2) Pure fluid withdrawal causes pore pressure to decrease within the reservoir. It triggers adjustments of the geological structure to perturbations related to the reservoir response to depletion. Poroelastic mechanisms transfer this stress change from the reservoir to the surrounding levels whereML≤5 seismic instabilities occur either above or below the reservoir. (3) Massive hydrocarbon recovery induces crustal readjustments due to the removal of load from the upper crust. It can induce larger earthquakes (ML≥6) at greater distance from the hydrocarbon fields than the two other mechanisms.

Due to the mechanical properties of the shallow rock matrices involved, seismic slip triggered either by mechanism (1) or (2), is a second-order process of the main elastoplastic deformation. for a minimum of 80% of commercially productive basins, most of the local deformation is reported as aseismic, i.e., there is no evidence forML≥3 earthquakes. Nevertheless, the induced stresses vary as a function of time in a manner that depends on the hydraulic diffusivity (i.e., permeability) of the reservoir and surrounding rocks. Because small earthquakes (ML≤3) indicate changes in stress and pore pressure, monitoring of seismicity is a means of assessingin situ reservoir behavior.

The less constrained seismic response to hydrocarbon recovery is the possible connection between local fluid manipulations, triggered earthquakes and major regional earthquakes. Positive feedback mechanisms suggest that the region of seismic hazard changes is much larger than the area where hydrocarbons are extracted. These observations and models testify that fluid movement and pore pressure changes (increase or decrease) play important roles in the mechanics of earthquakes and in the triggering of natural earthquakes.

Key words

Induced seismicity faulting fluid hydrocarbon pore pressure 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Batchelor, A. S., Baria, R. andHearn, K. (1983),Monitoring the Effects of Hydraulic Stimulation by Microseismic Event Location: A Case Study, Paper presented at the 58th Technical Conf., San Francisco, CA. SPE 12109.Google Scholar
  2. Besrodny, E. M.,The source mechanism of the Gazly earthquakes of 1976–1984. InGazly Earthquakes of 1976 and 1984 (Tashkent, Fan 1986) pp. 94–105.Google Scholar
  3. Bilham, R., andKing, G. (1989),The Morphology of Strike-slip Faults: Examples from the San Andreas Fault California, J. Geophys. Res.94, 10204–10216.Google Scholar
  4. Biot, M. A. (1941),General Theory of a 3-dimensional Consolidation, J. Appl. Phys.12, 155–164.Google Scholar
  5. Bruno, M. S. (1992)Subsidence-induced Well Failure, SPE Drilling Engineering7 (1) SPE 20058.Google Scholar
  6. Calloi, P., Depanfilis, M., DiFilippo, D., Marcelli, I., andSpadea, M. C. (1956),Terremoti della val Padana del 15–16 Maggio 1951, Ann Geofis.9, 63–105.Google Scholar
  7. Carder, D. S. (1945),Seismic Investigation in the Boulder Dam Area, 1940–1945, and the Influence of Reservoir Loading on Earthquake Activity, Bull. Seismol Soc. Am.35, 175–192.Google Scholar
  8. Cassel, B., Bol. G. M., andStewart, L. (1990),Acoustic Emission Monitoring during Hydraulic Fracturing, SPE 20970, Paper presented at Europec 90, The Hague, Netherlands, 22–24 October 1990.Google Scholar
  9. Chen, Q., andNur, A. (1991),Pore Pressure Effects in Anistropic Porous Rocks, Paper presented at Int. Conf. Earthquake Prediction, State of the Art, Oct. 16–18, Strasbourg, France.Google Scholar
  10. Cornet, F. H. (1977),Study of Acoustic and Microseismic Emissions Associated with Hydraulic Fracture, Paper presented at Seminar on Geothermal Energy, Brussels, Dec. 1977, Eds. Commission of the European Communities, EUR 5920, pp. 685–691.Google Scholar
  11. Conlin, J. M., Hale, J. L., Maersk Oil & Gas, andSabatier, J. C., Faure, F., andMas. D., Franlab (1990),Multiple-fracture Horizontal Wells: Performance and Numerical Simulation, SPE 20960, Paper presented at Europec 90, The Haue, Netherlands, 22–24 October 1990.Google Scholar
  12. Crouch, S. L., andStarfield, A. M.,Boundary Element Methods in Solid Mechanics (Allen Unwin, London 1983).Google Scholar
  13. Davis, S. D., andPennington, W. D. (1989),Induced Seismic Deformation in the Codgell Oil Field of West Texas, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.79, 1477–1497.Google Scholar
  14. Doser, D. I., Baker, M. R., andMason, D. B. (1991),Seismicity in the War-Wink Gas Field, Delaware Basin, West Texas, and its Relationship to Petroleum Production, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.81, 971–986.Google Scholar
  15. Elsasser, W. M.,Convection and stress propagation in the upper mantle. InThe Application of the Modern Physics to the Earth and Planetary Interiors (ed. Runcorn) (Wiley Interscience, NY 1969) pp. 223–246.Google Scholar
  16. Eyidogan, H., Nabelek, J., andTöksöz, N. (1985),The Gasli, USSR, 19 March 1984 Earthquake: The Mechanism and Tectonic Implications, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.75, 661–675.Google Scholar
  17. Evans, M. D. (1966),Man-made Earthquakes in Denver, Geotimes10, 11–17.Google Scholar
  18. Evans, K. (1987),In situ Stress Discontinuity across the Appalachian Plateau Decollement, Paper presented AGU Spring Meeting, 1987.Google Scholar
  19. Evans, D. G., andSteeples, D. W. (1987),Microearthquakes near the Sleepy Hollow Oil Field, Southwestern Nebraska, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.77, 132–140.Google Scholar
  20. Feignier, B. andGrasso, J.-R. (1990),Seismicity Induced by a Gas Depletion: I. Correlation of Focal Mechanisms and Dome Structure, Pure Appl. Geophys.134, 405–426.Google Scholar
  21. Feignier, B., andGrasso, J.-R. (1992),Characteristics of Seismic Fractures as a Function of Geomechanical Setting. Pure Appl. Geophys.137, 175–199.Google Scholar
  22. Fletcher, J. B., andSykes, L. R. (1977),Earthquakes Related to Hydraulic Mining and Natural Seismic Activity in Western New York State, J. Geophys. Res.82, 3767–3780.Google Scholar
  23. Geertsma, J. (1973),Land Subsidence above Compacting Oil and Gas Reservoir, J. Petrol Techn.25, 734–744.Google Scholar
  24. Gough, D. I. andGough, W. I. (1970),Stress and Deflection in the Lithosphere near Lake Kariba, Geophys. J. Roy. Astro. Soc.21, 65–101.Google Scholar
  25. Grasso, J.-R. (1990),Hydrocarbon Extraction and Seismic Hazard Assessment, EOS Transactions, Am. Geophys. Union71, 1454.Google Scholar
  26. Grasso, J.-R., andFeignier, B. (1990),Seismicity Induced by Gas Depletion: II. Lithology Correlated Events, Induced Stresses and Deformations, Pure Appl. Geophys.134, 427–450.Google Scholar
  27. Grasso, J.-R., andWittlinger, G. (1990),Ten Years of Seismic Monitoring over a Gas Field Area, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.80, 450–473.Google Scholar
  28. Grasso, J.-R. (1992a),Effects of the Gas Extraction on the Seismic and Aseismic Slips in the Neighborhood of Meillon-St-Faust Gas Field, Report to EIF-Aquitaine Company, Feb. 1992, 60 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Grasso, J.-R. (1992b),Coseismic Folding and Geometrical Constraint on the Kinematics of the Gasli Earthquakes, Internal Report, LGIT, Observatoire de Grenoble.Google Scholar
  30. Grasso, J.-R., Gratier, J. P., Gamond, J. F., andPaumier, J.-C. (1992a),Stress Diffusion Triggering of Earthquakes in the Upper Crust Special Issue on Mechanical Instabilities in Rocks and Tectonics, J. Struc. Geol.14, 915–924.Google Scholar
  31. Grasso, J.-R. Plotnikova, L. M., Nurtiev, B., andFréchet, J. (1992b),Seismic Activity in the Three M s ≥7.0 Gasli Sequence Area: May–June 1991, submitted to Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.Google Scholar
  32. Grasso, J.-R., Chatelain, J.-C., Eyredard, J., andYepes, H. (1992c),Anomalous Seismicity in the Lago-Agrio Area, Ecuador Fluid-induced Earthquakes? Report to EIF-Aquitaine Company, 10 pp.Google Scholar
  33. Grasso, J.-R., Plotnikova, L. M., Nurtiev, B., andBossu, R. (1993),The Three M s ≥7 Gasli Sequence: the Largest Seismic Energy Release by Human Activity, in preparation.Google Scholar
  34. Gupta, H. K., andRastogi, B. K.,Dams and Earthquakes (Elsevier Amsterdam 1976) 229 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Guyoton, F., Grasso, J.-R., andVolant, P. (1992),Interrelation between Induced Seismic Instabilities and Complex Geological Structure, Geophys. Res. Lett.19 (7), 678–684.Google Scholar
  36. Haak, H. W. (1991),Seismiche Analyse van de Aardbeving bij Emmen op 15 februari 1991, Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut eds., Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 14 pp.Google Scholar
  37. Hart, C., Engi, D., Fleming, R., andMorris, H. (1984),Fracture Diagnostics Results for the Multiwell Experiment's Paludal Zone Simulation, Paper SPE 12852, presented at the 1984 Unconventional Gas Recovery Symposium. Pittsburg.Google Scholar
  38. Hartzell, S. (1980),Faulting Process of the May 17, 1976 Gasli Earthquake, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.70, 1715–1736.Google Scholar
  39. Healy, J. H., Rubey, W. W., Griggs, D. T., andRaleigh, C. B. (1986),The Denver Earthquakes, Science161, 1301–1310.Google Scholar
  40. Hsieh, P. A., andBredehoeft, J. D. (1981),Reservoir Analysis of the Denver Earthquakes. The Case of Induced Seismicity, J. Geophys. Res.,86, 903–920.Google Scholar
  41. Kanamori, H., andHauksson, E. (1991),A Slow Earthquake in Sediments in the Santa Maria Basin, California, EOS Transactions, Am. Geophys. Union72 (44), 293.Google Scholar
  42. Kapotas, S., andKanasewitch, E. R. (1989),Microseismicity and Stress Orientations in Cold Lake, Alberta, Report to Esso Resources Canada Ltd. and Alberta Environment.Google Scholar
  43. Kovach, R. L. (1974),Source Mechanisms for Wilmington Oil Field, California, Subsidence Earthquakes, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.64, 699–711.Google Scholar
  44. Leydecker, G. (1992),The seismological surveillance of Gorbelen site and its surroundings. InProceeding of OECD-NEA Workshop on Long-term Observation of the Geological Environment, Helsinki, 9–11 September 1991, in press.Google Scholar
  45. McGarr, A. (1976),Seismic Moments and Volume Changes, J. Geophys. Res.81, 1487–1494.Google Scholar
  46. McGarr, A. (1991),On a Possible Connection between Three Major Earthquakes in California and Oil Production, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.81, 948–970.Google Scholar
  47. McEvilly, T. V. (1992),High-frequency Observations of Microearthquakes in Active Fault Zones, Seismol. Res. Lett.63, 41.Google Scholar
  48. Maury, V., andSauzay, J.-M. Oil well collapse due to fault shearing: a case study and some comments, InProc. of the Int. Symp. Rock at Great Depth, Pau (eds. Maury, V., and Fourmaintraux, D.) (Balkema, Rotterdam 1989), pp 871–880.Google Scholar
  49. Maury, V., Grasso, J. R., andWittlinger, G. (1992),Lacq Gas Field (France): Monitoring of Induced Subsidence and Seismicity, Consequences on Gas Production and Field Operation, Engineering Geology32, 123–135.Google Scholar
  50. Mereu, R. F., Brunet, J., Morrissev, K., Price, B., andYapp, A. (1986),A Study of the Microearthquakes of the Gobles Oil Field Area of Southwestern Ontario, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.76, 1215–1223.Google Scholar
  51. Milne, W. G. (1970),The Snipe Lake, Alberta, Earthquake of March 8, 1970, Can. J. Earth. Sci.7, 1564–1567.Google Scholar
  52. Nason, R. D., Copper, A. K., andTocher, D. (1986),Slippage on the Buena Vista Thrust Fault, 43rd Annual Meeting Guidebook, AAPG, SEG, SEMP. Am. Ass. of Pet. Geol., Pac. Sect., 100–101.Google Scholar
  53. Nicholson, C., Roeloffs, E., andWesson, R. L. (1988),The Northeastern Ohio Earthquake of 31 January 1986: Was it Induced? Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.78, 188–217.Google Scholar
  54. Nicholson, C.,Earthquakes associated with deep well activities: Comments and case histories. InRock Mechanics (eds. Tillerson & Wavesik) (Balkema, Rotterdam 1992) pp. 1079–1086.Google Scholar
  55. Nur, A. (1972),Dilatancy, Pore Fluids, and Premonitory Variation of t s/tp Travel Times, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.62, 1217–1222.Google Scholar
  56. Ohtsu, M. (1991),Simplified Moment Tensor Analysis and Unified Decomposition of Acoustic Emission: Application to Hydrofracturing Test. J. Geophys. Res.96, 6211–6221.Google Scholar
  57. Pearson, C. F. (1981),The Relationship between Microseismicity and High Pore Pressures during Hydraulic Stimulation Experiments in Low Permeability Granitic Rocks, J. Geophys. Res.86, 7855–7864.Google Scholar
  58. Pennington, D. W., Davis, S. D., Carlson, S. M., Dupree, J., andEwing, T. E. (1986),The Evolution of Seismic Barriers and Asperities Caused by the Depressuring of Fault Planes in Oil and Gas of South Texas, Bull Seismol. Soc. Am.76, 939–948.Google Scholar
  59. Perrodon, A.,Géodynamique pétrolière (ed. Masson) (Paris 1985) 385 pp.Google Scholar
  60. Plotnikova, L. M., Flynova, M. G., Machmudova, V. I. (1989),Induced Seismicity in Gas Field Region, Proc. XXV IASPEI General Assembly, Istanbul, August 1989.Google Scholar
  61. Price, D. G., Van Veen, F. R., Schokking, F., Roset, J. P. A., andHouwink, H., Proceedings of theBodemdaling in Netherlands (eds. Price et al.) Symposium Verslag, Nov. 1990 (Tech. University Delft, Netherlands 1991).Google Scholar
  62. Power, D. V.,Acoustic emission following hydraulic fracturing in a gas well. Paper presented at Conference onAcoustic Emission/Microseismic Activity in Geologic Structures and Materials, Penn. State Univ., June 1975 (eds. Hardy, H., and Leighton, F. W.) (Aedermannsdorf, Switzerland; Trans. Tech. Publications 1977) pp. 291–308.Google Scholar
  63. Raleigh, C. B., Healy, J. H., andBredehoeft, J. D. (1972),Faulting and Crustal Stress at Rangely, Colorado, A.G.U., Geophysical Monograph16, 275–284 San Andreas Fault, EOS Transactions, Am. Geophys. Union71, 1652.Google Scholar
  64. Rice, J. R., andCleary, M. P. (1976),Some Basic Stress Diffusion Solution for Fluid Saturated Elastic Porous Media with Compressible Constituents, Rev. Geophys. Space Phys.14, 227–241.Google Scholar
  65. Rice, J. R., andGu, C. (1983),Earthquake Aftereffects and Triggered Seismic Phenomena, Pure Appl. Geophys.121, 187–219.Google Scholar
  66. Richter, C. F.,Elementary Seismology (W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco 1958) 768 pp.Google Scholar
  67. Roeloffs, E. (1988),Fault Stability Changes Induced beneath a Reservoir with Cyclic Variations in Water Level, J. Geophys. Res.93, 2107–2124.Google Scholar
  68. Rothé, J.-P. (1977),Séismes artificiels et exploitation pétrolières: L'exemple de lacq, France Annali di Geofisicia30, 369–383.Google Scholar
  69. Rothé, G. H., andLui, C. Y. (1983),Possibility of Induced Seismicity in the Vicinity of the Sleepy Hollow Oil Field, SW Nebraska, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.73, 1357–1367.Google Scholar
  70. Rydelek, P. A., andSacks, I. S. (1990),Asthenospheric Viscosity and Stress Diffusion: A Mechanism to Explain Correlated Earthquakes and Surface Deformations in the N.E. Japan, Geophys. J. Int.100, 39–58.Google Scholar
  71. Segall, P. (1989),Earthquakes Triggered by Fluid Extraction, Geology17, 942–946.Google Scholar
  72. Segall, P., andYerkes, R. F. (1990),Stress and fluid pressure changes associated with oil-fields operations: A critical assessment of effects in the focal region of the earthquake. InThe Coalinga, California, Earthquake of May 2, 1983, U.S. Geol. Sur. Prof. Paper1487, 259–272.Google Scholar
  73. Segall, P., andGrasso, J.-R. (1991),Poroelastic Stressing and Induced Seismicity near the Lacq Gas Field (France), EOS Trans. AGU72 (44), 331.Google Scholar
  74. Simpson, D. W., (1986),Triggered Earthquakes, Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci.14, 21–42.Google Scholar
  75. Simpson, D. W., andLeith, W. (1985),The 1976 and 1984 Gasli, USSR, Earthquakes—Were they Induced? Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.75, 1465–1468.Google Scholar
  76. Simpson, D. W., Leith, W. S., andScholz, C. H. (1988),Two Types of Reservoir-induced Seismicity, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am.78, 2025–2040.Google Scholar
  77. Smirnova, M. N. (1968),Effect of Earthquakes on the Oil Yield of the Gudermes Field (Northeastern Caucasus), Izvestia, Earth Physics12, 760–763.Google Scholar
  78. Smirnova, M. N.,Earthquakes induced by hydrocarbon recovery, InSeismicity Changes Induced by Human Activity (Nauka, Moscow 1977) pp. 128–140 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  79. Sornette, A. andSornette, D. (1989),Self-organized Criticality and Earthquakes, Europhys. Lett.9, 197–202.Google Scholar
  80. Talebi, S., andCornet, F. H. (1987),Analysis of the Microseismicity Induced by a Fluid Injection in a Granitic Rock Mass, Geophys. Res. Lett.14 (3), 227–230.Google Scholar
  81. Teufel, L. W., Rhett, D. W., andFarrell, H. E. (1991),Effect of reservoir depletion and pore pressure drawdown on in situ stress and deformation in the Ekofisk Field, North Sea, InProceeding of the 32nd US Rock. Mech. Symposium (ed. Roegiers, J. C.) (Balkema, Rotterdam 1991) pp. 63–72.Google Scholar
  82. Thatcher, W., Matsuda, T., Kato, T., andRundle, J. B. (1980),Lithospheric Loading by the 1896 Riku-u Earthquake, Northern Japan: Implications for Plate Flexure and Asthenosphere Rheology, J. Geophys. Res.85, 6429–6435.Google Scholar
  83. Volant, P., Grasso, J. R., Chatelain, J. C., andFrogneux, M. (1992),b-Value, Aseismic Deformation and Brittle Failure within an Isolated Object: Evidences from a Dome Structure Loaded by Fluid Extraction, Geophys. Res. Lett.19, 1149–1152.Google Scholar
  84. Wetmiller, R. J. (1986),Earthquakes near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, and Relationship to Gas Production, Can. J. Earth Sciences32, (2), 172–181.Google Scholar
  85. Yerkes, R. F., andCastle, R. O. (1976),Seismicity and Faulting Attributable to Fluid Extraction, Engin. Geol.10, 151–167.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. -R. Grasso
    • 1
  1. 1.LGIT/IRIGMObservatoire de GrenobleGrenoble CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations