Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) have the potential to make a significant contribution to the world energy inventory. One controversial issue associated with EGS, however, is the impact of induced seismicity or microseismicity, which has been the cause of delays and threatened cancellation of at least two EGS projects worldwide. Although microseismicity has in fact had few (or no) adverse physical effects on operations or on surrounding communities, there remains public concern over the amount and magnitude of the seismicity associated with current and future EGS operations. The primary objectives of this paper are to present an up-to-date review of what is already known about the seismicity induced during the creation and operation of EGS, and of the gaps in our knowledge that, once addressed, should lead to an improved understanding of the mechanisms generating the events. Several case histories also illustrate a number of technical and public acceptance issues. We conclude that EGS-induced seismicity need not pose a threat to the development of geothermal energy resources if site selection is carried out properly, community issues are handled adequately and operators understand the underlying mechanisms causing the events. Induced seismicity could indeed prove beneficial, in that it can be used to monitor the effectiveness of EGS operations and shed light on geothermal reservoir processes.
Geothermics – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2007
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