A classification of induced seismicity

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In order to adopt the best safety procedures, man-made earthquakes should be differentiated as a function of their origin. At least four different types of settings can be recognized in which anthropogenic activities may generate seismicity: (I) fluid removal from a stratigraphic reservoir in the underground can trigger the compaction of the voids and the collapse of the overlying volume, i.e., graviquakes; the deeper the reservoir, the bigger the volume and the earthquake magnitude; (II) wastewater or gas reinjection provides the reduction of friction in volumes and along fault planes, allowing creep or sudden activation of tectonic discontinuities, i.e., reinjection quakes; (III) fluid injection at supra-lithostatic pressure generates hydrofracturing and micro-seismicity, i.e., hydrofracturing quakes; (IV) fluid extraction or fluid injection, filling or unfilling of artificial lakes modifies the lithostatic load, which is the maximum principal stress in extensional tectonic settings, the minimum principal stress in contractional tectonic settings, and the intermediate principal stress in strike-slip settings, i.e., load quakes; over given pressure values, the increase of the lithostatic load may favour the activation of normal faults, whereas its decrease may favour thrust faults. For example, the filling of an artificial lake may generate normal fault-related seismicity. Therefore, each setting has its peculiarities and the knowledge of the different mechanisms may contribute to the adoption of the appropriate precautions in the various industrial activities.




Doglioni, C. (2018). A classification of induced seismicity. Geoscience Frontiers, 9(6), 1903–1909. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gsf.2017.11.015

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