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FAQ #6: Will the demonstration cause damaging or felt earthquakes?

March 18, 2012

It is very unlikely. As part of the first phase of the project, a number of independent engineers and scientists were asked to evaluate the risk of generating earthquakes or seismicity of concern to the local population and structures. These studies determined that the seismicity created by the project had a very low risk of being felt by people in the vicinity of the project and an even lower risk that any damaging earthquakes could occur. The risk is low due to the short time span of injection (less than 30 days), the remote location (~10 miles to the nearest town) and the fact that there are no seismically active faults identified near the well or project area.

During the stimulation, we will use a network of highly sensitive seismometers to map the microseismicity generated by hydroshearing, and we will take proactive measures to prevent microseismicity from escalating into felt earthquakes.

Resources:

  • Before, during, and after the stimulation, the public will be able to view an interactive seismicity map hosted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  • The main text of the Induced Seismicity Mitigation Plan (ISMP) for the EGS Demonstration is available on AltaRock’s website (2.6 MB).
  • The complete ISMP  is 60 MB and includes 14 appendices, including independent engineering reports on
    • seismic hazards and risks (URS Corporation),
    • modeling the magnitude and probability of felt earthquakes (Fugro Consultants),
    • a structural assessment of buildings in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument (Simpson Gumpertz & Heger), and
    • geotechnical assessment of the natural slopes and Paulina Lake diversion dam (Treadwell & Rollo).
    • A glossary of induced and natural seismicity terms can be found here.

Previous FAQ: Do you expect any toxic material in the water that returns from the test well?

Next FAQ: Can the stimulated fractures grow in an uncontrolled way into undesirable places?

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