Journal of Seismology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 1161–1177 | Cite as

Characterization of seismic signals induced by the operation of wind turbines in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany

  • Tobias NeufferEmail author
  • Simon Kremers
  • Ralf Fritschen
Original Article


In recent years, the impact of wind turbines (WTs) on seismological stations has been noticed, since WT-induced ground motions perturbed the seismic background noise level at seismological monitoring sites. The resulting deterioration of the recording quality at seismic stations leads to a conflict between seismological network and WT operators. As a first step towards the solution of the conflict - or at least a peaceful coexistence - it is of paramount importance to understand the characteristics of seismic signals generated by WTs. For this study, a 6.5-week measurement campaign was conducted at a wind park (WP) consisting of five 2 MW turbines in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) with eleven mobile seismic stations installed at distances of 1–10 km from the WP. At each measurement point, power spectral density (PSD) spectra are calculated and correlated with different operating states of the WTs. Changes in the operating states of the WT are reflected in the noise level at the seismic stations with different distances to the WP. An analysis of the radiated frequencies from the WT foundation into the subsurface is carried out by performing shutdown and switch-on tests at the WP. In this way, seismic signals generated by WTs are identified and used to illustrate how frequency-dependent peaks in WT-induced seismic noise are attenuated with distance. The attenuation of the peaks can be described by a power-law decay proportional to rb, with r as the distance between station and WT and b as the decay parameter with values between 2.4 and 5.5. The relationship between the noise level at a seismic station and the number of WTs in operation, that behave as interacting sources for the background noise level, could be determined as \(\sim \sqrt {N}\), with N being the number of switched-on WTs.


Seismic noise Wind turbine noise Eigenfrequencies of wind turbine towers Attenuation of seismic waves 



The authors are grateful to the “Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIDE),” “EnergieAgenturNRW,” and “Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz (LANUV NRW)” for the permission to use the seismic data recorded within the scope of the commission. We also thank “Enercon GmbH” for providing operational data of the wind turbines and the permission to publish. We would like to thank the Hilchenbach wind park operators and the owners of the sites on which the mobile seismic stations were installed during the measurement campaign. Finally, we also would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewer for their recommendations that greatly improved this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ruhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.DMT GmbHEssenGermany

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