Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 51, Issue 10, pp 3265–3279 | Cite as

Evaluating Micro-Seismic Events Triggered by Reservoir Operations at the Geothermal Site of Groß Schönebeck (Germany)

  • Guido Blöcher
  • Mauro Cacace
  • Antoine B. Jacquey
  • Arno Zang
  • Oliver Heidbach
  • Hannes Hofmann
  • Christian Kluge
  • Günter Zimmermann
Original Paper


This study aims at evaluating the spatial and temporal distribution of 26 micro-seismic events which were triggered by hydraulic stimulation at the geothermal site of Groß Schönebeck (Germany). For this purpose, the alteration of the in-situ stress state and the related change of slip tendency for existing fault zones due to stimulation treatments and reservoir operations is numerical simulated. Changes in slip tendency can potentially lead to reactivation of fault zones, the related movement can lead to the occurrence of seismic events. In the current numerical study, results obtained based on the thermal–hydraulic–mechanical coupled simulation are compared to field observations. In particular, the study focuses on describing the fault reactivation potential: (1) under in-situ stress conditions; (2) during a waterfrac stimulation treatment; and (3) during a projected 30 years production and injection period at the in-situ geothermal test-site Groß Schönebeck. The in-situ stress state indicates no potential for fault reactivation. During a waterfrac stimulation treatment, micro-seismic events were recorded. Our current evaluation shows an increase of slip tendency during the treatment above the failure level in the direct vicinity of the micro-seismic events. During the projected production and injection period, despite increased thermal stress, the values for slip tendency are below the threshold for fault reactivation. Based on these results, and to prove the applied method to evaluate the observed micro-seismic events, a final discussion is opened. This includes the in-situ stress state, the role of pre-existing fault zones, the adopted criterion for fault reactivation, and a 3D rock failure criterion based on true triaxial measurements.


Fault reactivation Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Induced seismicity Thermal–Hydraulic–Mechanical (THM) 




Bottom Hole Pressure


Carbon Capture and Storage


Enhanced Geothermal System


European Union


Geothermal Engineering Integrating Mitigation of Induced Seismicity in Reservoirs


Kontinentales Tiefbohrprogramm der Bundesrepublik Deutschland


Slip Tendency


Taiwan Chelungpu-fault Drilling Project




True Vertical Depth SubSea


Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system

List of Roman Symbols


Material constant


Material constant

\(c_\text {f}\)

Fluid heat capacity

\(K_\text {f}\)

Fluid modulus

\(K_\text {s}\)

Solid modulus

\(M_\text {b}\)

Biot modulus

\(n_1, n_2, n_3\)

Components of the normal unit vector

\(p_\text {f}\)

Reservoir fluid pressure



\(S_{\text {Hmax}}\)

Maximum horizontal stress

\(S_{\text {hmin}}\)

Minimum horizontal stress

\(S_{\text {V}}\)

Vertical stress






Gravitational acceleration vector


Permeability tensor

\(\varvec{q_\text {D}}\)

Darcy velocity vector


Displacement vector

List of Greek Symbols


Biot’s poro-elastic coefficient

\(\beta _\text {b}\)

Bulk volumetric thermal expansion coefficient

\(\varvec{\epsilon }\)

Strain tensor

\(\varvec{\sigma {}}^{\prime }\)

Effective stress tensor

\(\lambda _\text {b}\)

Bulk thermal conductivity

\(\mu _\text {f}\)

Fluid viscosity

\(\mu _\text {s}\)

Coefficient of friction



\(\rho _\text {b}\)

Bulk density

\(\rho _\text {f}\)

Fluid density

\(\sigma ^{\prime }_{\text {m}}\)

Mean effective stress acting on the plane of failure

\(\sigma _1, \sigma _2, \sigma _3\)

Principle stresses

\(\sigma _\text {n}\)

Normal stress

\(\sigma {}'_\text {n}\)

Effective normal stress


Shear stress

\(\tau ^{\prime }_{\text {oct}}\)

Octahedral shear stress

\({\left( \rho {}c\right) }_{\text {b}}\)

Bulk specific heat

List of other Symbols


Nabla operator

\(\varvec{\mathbb {C}}\)

Rank-four elastic stiffness tensor

\(\boldsymbol{\mathbb {1}}\)

Rank-two identity tensor



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Blöcher
    • 1
  • Mauro Cacace
    • 1
  • Antoine B. Jacquey
    • 1
  • Arno Zang
    • 1
  • Oliver Heidbach
    • 1
  • Hannes Hofmann
    • 1
  • Christian Kluge
    • 1
  • Günter Zimmermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Helmholtz Centre PotsdamGFZ German Research Centre for GeosciencesPotsdamGermany

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