Acta Seismologica Sinica

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 377–387 | Cite as

Microearthquake analysis for hydraulic fracturing process

  • Ying-Ping Li


The hydraulic fracture technique is widely applied in the enhancement of petroleum and natural gas productions and in the development of geothermal energy. This technique is also used to create an underground fracture zone system for disposal of solid and liquid wastes. This is the most recent development in the application of industrial techniques to environmental protection scientific problems. Knowledge of mechanical properties and geometrical parameters of a hydraulic fracture zone is important for both energy resource development and safe disposal of waste. Hydraulic fracturing often induces many microearthquakes. Analysis of the spatial-temporal distribution of the induced seismicity yields the geometry of a hydraulic fracture zone, and kinetic and dynamic parameters associated with the fracture growth process. Applying a waveform correlation analysis and a space-time grid search method, we precisely determined hypocentral locations for 157 microearthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing. Spatial distribution of the induced seismicity clearly shows the dimension and orientation of a hydraulic fracture zone. Variation of the seismicity distribution in time and space was used to infer the growth rate and direction of the fracture zone. An empirical Green’s function (EGF) method was applied to earthquake doublets to retrieve relative source time functions (RSTF’s) and to estimate source parameters, such as seismic moment, source radius, and stress drop, for larger microearthquakes. Azimuthal variation of the RSTF of a master event indicates that the source ruptured to the northwest, which aggrees with the fracture zone growth direction. Large variation of stress drops for these induced earthquakes reflects the significant heterogeneity of mechanical properties in the hydraulic fracture zone.

Key words

hydraulic fracture zone waveform correlation earthquake location fracture dimension and growth rate empirical Green’s function source parameters 


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Copyright information

© Acta Seismologica Sinica 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying-Ping Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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