University of Southern California USC Center for Geothermal Studies The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering USC

Induced Seismicity, Issues and Paths Forward By Dr. Ernest L. Majer, Laurence Berkeley National Laboratories, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 10:30 -11:30a.m. RTH-324

May 11, 2011 — Microearthquake monitoring for fracture enhancement and the imaging of fracture systems will
play a crucial role in the success of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), both from a reservoir
management standpoint and for public acceptance of the method. One controversial issue
associated with EGS is the occurrence of induced seismicity or microseismicity, which has been
the cause of delays and has threatened the cancellation of 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. However, EGS-induced seismicity
need not pose a threat to the development of geothermal energy resources if site selection is
carried out properly. Aside from data gathering and analysis to mitigate adverse effects of
seismicity, we need to focus on the benefits of using induced seismicity as a tool for creating,
sustaining, and characterizing the enhanced subsurface heat exchangers, whose performance is
crucial to the success of future EGS projects.
Dr. Ernie Majer is Ernest L. Majer is the Senior Advisor t LBNL Earth
Sciences Division. He received his Ph.D. in Geophysics from University of
California, Berkeley M.A., Geophysics, University of California, Berkeley.
His recent work has been in the extension of high resolution seismic
imaging for geothermal, petroleum, and gas reservoir monitoring and
characteri zation, integration of geophysical methods for nuclear waste
disposal, and the application of geophysical methods for defining physical
properties associated with subsurface rock fluid processes. The thrust of
these activities has been to develop new and innovative applications of
active and passive geophysical methods for a wide variety of earth science applications such aas
Induced seismicity, Vertical Seismic Profiling (VSP,) single well seismic imaging , direct
detection of microbial activity, seismic stimulation of fluid flow and fluid imaging.