Design and implementation of a traffic light system for deep geothermal well stimulation in Finland


We describe the design and implementation of a traffic light system (TLS) created for the stimulation phase of a 6.1-km-deep geothermal well in the Helsinki area, Finland. Because of the lack of local seismic data to calibrate the TLS, the TLS thresholds have been proposed on the basis of two parameters: acceptable ground motion levels and probabilities to reach these levels, which were then used to establish TLS magnitudes. A peak ground velocity (PGV) of 1 mm/s associated with a ML ≥ 1 event, or a ML ≥ 1.2 event alone, triggered an Amber alert. A PGV of 7.5 mm/s associated with a ML ≥ 2.1 event triggered a Red alert, where ML was a local “Helsinki” magnitude. Specific thresholds based on PGV and peak ground acceleration were gathered for critical infrastructure sites and related to earthquake magnitudes in a probabilistic way. The implementation of the TLS during the stimulation showed that the selected thresholds were reasonably conservative. Some of the Amber events were reportedly felt or heard, but the public opinion remained very favourable to the project. Measured ground motions were too low to have any impact on the built environment and the stimulation was able to proceed without being impaired by the occurrence of a Red event. Seismic data acquired during the stimulation and lessons learnt are presented and used to revisit the TLS thresholds for potential future stimulations.

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Ader, T., Chendorain, M., Free, M. et al. Design and implementation of a traffic light system for deep geothermal well stimulation in Finland. J Seismol 24, 991–1014 (2020).

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  • Geothermal
  • Stimulation
  • Traffic light system
  • Induced seismicity
  • GMPE