Integrated High Resolution Microearthquake Analysis and Monitoring for Optimizing Steam Production at The Geysers Geothermal Field, California
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Integrated High Resolution Microearthquake Analysis and Monitoring for Optimizing Steam Production at The Geysers Geothermal Field, California

  • Author(s): Majer, Ernest
  • Peterson, John
  • Stark, Mitch
  • Smith, Bill
  • Rutqvist, Jonny
  • Kennedy, Mack
  • et al.
Abstract

In December of 2003 a large amount of water from the Santa Rosa wastewater project began being pumped to The Geysers for injection. Millions of dollars are being spent on this injection project in the anticipation that the additional fluid will not only extend the life of The Geysers but also greatly increase the net amount of energy extracted. Optimal use of the injected water, however, will require that the water be injected at the right place, in the right amount and at the proper rate. It has been shown that Microearthquake (MEQ) generation is a direct indicator of the effect of fluid injection at The Geysers Majer and McEvilly 1979; Eberhart-Phillips and Oppenheimer 1984; Enedy et al. 1992; Stark 1992; Kirkpatrick et al. 1999; Smith et al. 2000). It is one of the few, if not only methods, practical to monitor the volumetric effect of water injection at The Geysers. At the beginning of this project there was not a detailed MEQ response, Geysers-wide, to a large influx of water such as will be the case from the Santa Rosa injection project. New technology in MEQ acquisition and analysis, while used in parts of The Geysers for short periods of time had not been applied reservoir-wide to obtain an integrated analysis of the reservoir. Also needed was a detailed correlation with the production and injection data on a site wide basis. Last but not least, needed was an assurance to the community that the induced seismicity is documented and understood such that if necessary, mitigation actions can be undertaken in a timely manner. This project was necessary not only for optimizing the heat recovery from the resource, but for assuring the community that there is no hazard associated with the increased injection activities. Therefore, the primary purpose of this project was to develop and apply high-resolution micro earthquake methodology for the entire Geysers geothermal field such that at the end of this project a monitoring and process definition methodology will be available to: a. Optimize the economic development of The Geysers (as well as other areas) by providing improved information on fluid flow and reservoir dynamics. b. Aid in the mitigation of environmental impacts of increased fluid injection by improving the understanding between fluid injection and seismicity. c. Provide a cost-effective blueprint such that the technology can be applied on a routine basis in the future.

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