Influence of wind turbines on seismic stations in the upper rhine graben, SW Germany


By analysing long- and short-term seismological measurements at wind farms close to the town of Landau, SW Germany, we present new insights into ground motion signals from wind turbines (WTs) at local seismic stations. Because of their need to be located in similar regions with sparsely anthropogenic activities, wind turbines impact seismic stations and their recordings in a way that is not yet fully understood by researchers. To ensure the undisturbed recording tasks of a regional seismic array or a single station by a protected area around those endangered stations, it is very important to investigate the behavior of WTs as a seismic source. For that reason, we calculate averaged one-hour long spectra of the power spectral density (PSD) before and after the installation of a new wind farm within the investigated area. These PSD are ordered according to the rotation speed. We observe a clear increase of the PSD level after the WT installation in a frequency range of 0.5 to 10 Hz up to a distance of 5.5 km away from the WT. By analysing seismic borehole data, we also observe a decrease of the PSD of wind dependent signals with depth. The impact of wind-dependent signals is found to be much more pronounced for the shallower station (150 m depth) than for the deeper one (305 m depth). Using short-term profile measurements, we fit a power-law decay proportional to 1/r b to the main WT-induced PSD peaks and differentiate between near-field and far-field effects of ground motions. For low frequencies in the range from 1 to 4 Hz, we determine a b value of 0.78 to 0.85 for the far field, which is consistent with surface waves. The b value increases (up to 1.59) with increasing frequencies (up to 5.5 Hz), which is obviously due to attenuating effects like scattering or anelasticity. These results give a better understanding of the seismic wavefield interactions between wind turbines (or wind farms) with nearby seismic stations, including borehole installations, in a sedimentary setting.

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The project “TremAc” is funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. Awarding authority: The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy based on a resolution of the German Bundestag. Seismic data were provided by “Erdbebendienst Südwest”, “Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources” and “Karlsruher Broadband Array (KABBA)”. We would like to thank “pfalzwind GmbH (Ludwigshafen/Germany)” for the provision of data and their support of this work. We would like to thank Werner Scherer for help with technical work, as well as installation and service of seismic stations; Mohsen Koshesh for calibrating the instruments; Rainer Plokarz for helping with data handling and Petra Knopf for solving IT-problems. We also thank the two anonymus reviewers and the editor for their helpful and constructive suggestions and comments.

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Correspondence to Toni Zieger.

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Zieger, T., Ritter, J.R.R. Influence of wind turbines on seismic stations in the upper rhine graben, SW Germany. J Seismol 22, 105–122 (2018).

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  • Seismology
  • Seismic noise
  • Wind turbines
  • Spectral analysis
  • Attenuation