Understanding rate effects in injection-induced earthquakes

TitleUnderstanding rate effects in injection-induced earthquakes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsAlghannam, M, Juanes, R
JournalNature Communications
Date PublishedJan-12-2020
AbstractUnderstanding the physical mechanisms that underpin the link between fluid injection and seismicity is essential in efforts to mitigate the seismic risk associated with subsurface technologies. To that end, here we develop a poroelastic model of earthquake nucleation based on rate-and-state friction in the manner of spring–sliders, and analyze conditions for the emergence of stick-slip frictional instability—the mechanism for earthquakes—by carrying out a linear stability analysis and nonlinear simulations. We find that the likelihood of triggering earthquakes depends largely on the rate of increase in pore pressure rather than its magnitude. Consequently, fluid injection at constant rate acts in the direction of triggering seismic rupture at early times followed by aseismic creep at late times. Our model implies that, for the same cumulative volume of injected fluid, an abrupt high-rate injection protocol is likely to increase the seismic risk whereas a gradual step-up protocol is likely to decrease it.
Short TitleNat Commun