Using Coupled Geomechanical Modeling to Investigate Potential Production Induced Seismicity

Robert L. Walker, Susan E. Hough, Birendra Jha, Victor C. Tsai, Morgan T. Page, & Fred Aminzadeh

Published August 15, 2016, SCEC Contribution #6791, 2016 SCEC Annual Meeting Poster #345

Recent work has suggested that oil and gas industry operations may have triggered significant induced seismicity in several cases throughout the twentieth century. We have chosen one historic example to apply a coupled fluid flow and geomechanical framework in order to investigate the potential that oil production may have resulted in significant effect.

We consider the Mw7.3 1952 Kern County earthquake, and the suggestion that it may have been induced by production in the Wheeler Ridge oil field. The commencement of production from deep Eocene production horizons within the Wheeler Ridge field preceded the mainshock by 111 days, with the producing formation located at depths reaching three kilometers, within one kilometer of the White Wolf fault. While the epicentral location of the earthquake is not precisely known, it is thought to be within seven kilometers of the wellhead of the initial producing well from the deep formation.

Given this circumstantial evidence, as well as parameters guided by available industry records and a knowledge of traditional oil industry practices, we extend our investigation by means of petroleum industry standard numerical reservoir simulation, and by means of a numerical simulation coupling both fluid flow and poroelastic effects. Along with the study of this specific case, we seek to use this framework to better understand and identify potential production related triggering mechanisms, as well as examine industry both past and present that could have an effect on induced seismic hazard.

Key Words
Induced Seismicity, Geomechanics

Walker, R. L., Hough, S. E., Jha, B., Tsai, V. C., Page, M. T., & Aminzadeh, F. (2016, 08). Using Coupled Geomechanical Modeling to Investigate Potential Production Induced Seismicity. Poster Presentation at 2016 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
Computational Science (CS)