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Using InSAR to Investigate Injection-Induced Deformation and Seismicity in Timpson, Texas

Description

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become a common practice in United States oil fields for enhancing their productivity. Among the concerns regarding fracking, however, is the possibility that it could

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become a common practice in United States oil fields for enhancing their productivity. Among the concerns regarding fracking, however, is the possibility that it could trigger shallow earthquakes. The brine that results from fracking is injected into the subsurface for disposal. This brine causes a pore pressure gradient that is commonly believed to trigger failure along critically stressed subsurface faults. In Timpson, a small city in eastern Texas, earthquakes have become much more common since two injection wells were installed in 2007. 16 events of M_W > 2 have been detected since 2008 and are believed to be associated with failure along a subsurface fault. Applying interferometric synthetic aperture radar, we analyzed 3 sets of SAR images from the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) from May 2007 to December 2010. Using these data sets, XX interferograms were generated. From these interferograms, it was possible to determine the spatial and temporal evolution of the crustal deformation in the line-of-sight of the satellite. The results show strong evidence of uplift in the region adjacent to the injection wells. While previous studies have established a strong connection between fluid injection and increased seismicity, this is to our knowledge the first observed case of crustal deformation that has been observed as a result of hydraulic fracturing fluid disposal.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Remote Sensing and Modeling of Stressed Aquifer Systems and the Associated Hazards

Description

Aquifers host the largest accessible freshwater resource in the world. However, groundwater reserves are declining in many places. Often coincident with drought, high extraction rates and inadequate replenishment result in

Aquifers host the largest accessible freshwater resource in the world. However, groundwater reserves are declining in many places. Often coincident with drought, high extraction rates and inadequate replenishment result in groundwater overdraft and permanent land subsidence. Land subsidence is the cause of aquifer storage capacity reduction, altered topographic gradients which can exacerbate floods, and differential displacement that can lead to earth fissures and infrastructure damage. Improving understanding of the sources and mechanisms driving aquifer deformation is important for resource management planning and hazard mitigation.

Poroelastic theory describes the coupling of differential stress, strain, and pore pressure, which are modulated by material properties. To model these relationships, displacement time series are estimated via satellite interferometry and hydraulic head levels from observation wells provide an in-situ dataset. In combination, the deconstruction and isolation of selected time-frequency components allow for estimating aquifer parameters, including the elastic and inelastic storage coefficients, compaction time constants, and vertical hydraulic conductivity. Together these parameters describe the storage response of an aquifer system to changes in hydraulic head and surface elevation. Understanding aquifer parameters is useful for the ongoing management of groundwater resources.

Case studies in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, focus on land subsidence from groundwater withdrawal as well as distinct responses to artificial recharge efforts. In Christchurch, New Zealand, possible changes to aquifer properties due to earthquakes are investigated. In Houston, Texas, flood severity during Hurricane Harvey is linked to subsidence, which modifies base flood elevations and topographic gradients.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Transitions in eruption style at silicic volcanoes: from stable domes to pyroclastic flows and explosive plumes

Description

Silicic volcanoes produce many styles of activity over a range of timescales. Eruptions vary from slow effusion of viscous lava over many years to violent explosions lasting several hours. Hazards

Silicic volcanoes produce many styles of activity over a range of timescales. Eruptions vary from slow effusion of viscous lava over many years to violent explosions lasting several hours. Hazards from these eruptions can be far-reaching and persistent, and are compounded by the dense populations often surrounding active volcanoes. I apply and develop satellite and ground-based remote sensing techniques to document eruptions at Merapi and Sinabung Volcanoes in Indonesia. I use numerical models of volcanic activity in combination with my observational data to describe the processes driving different eruption styles, including lava dome growth and collapse, lava flow emplacement, and transitions between effusive and explosive activity.

Both effusive and explosive eruptions have occurred recently at Merapi volcano. I use satellite thermal images to identify variations during the 2006 effusive eruption and a numerical model of magma ascent to explain the mechanisms that controlled those variations. I show that a nearby tectonic earthquake may have triggered the peak phase of the eruption by increasing the overpressure and bubble content of the magma and that the frequency of pyroclastic flows is correlated with eruption rate. In 2010, Merapi erupted explosively but also shifted between rapid dome-building and explosive phases. I explain these variations by the heterogeneous addition of CO2 to the melt from bedrock under conditions favorable to transitions between effusive and explosive styles.

At Sinabung, I use photogrammetry and satellite images to describe the emplacement of a viscous lava flow. I calculate the flow volume (0.1 km3) and average effusion rate (4.4 m3 s-1) and identify active regions of collapse and advance. Advance rate was controlled by the effusion rate and the flow’s yield strength. Pyroclastic flow activity was initially correlated to the decreasing flow advance rate, but was later affected by the underlying topography as the flow inflated and collapsed near the vent, leading to renewed pyroclastic flow activity.

This work describes previously poorly understood mechanisms of silicic lava emplacement, including multiple causes of pyroclastic flows, and improves the understanding, monitoring capability, and hazard assessment of silicic volcanic eruptions.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Constraining Source Models, Underlying Mechanisms, and Hazards Associated with Slow Slip Events: Insight from Space-Borne Geodesy and Seismology

Description

The movement between tectonic plates is accommodated through brittle (elastic) displacement on the plate boundary faults and ductile permanent deformation on the fault borderland. The elastic displacement along the fault

The movement between tectonic plates is accommodated through brittle (elastic) displacement on the plate boundary faults and ductile permanent deformation on the fault borderland. The elastic displacement along the fault can occur in the form of either large seismic events or aseismic slip, known as fault creep. Fault creep mainly occurs at the deep ductile portion of the crust, where the temperature is high. Nonetheless, aseismic creep can also occur on the shallow brittle portion of the fault segments that are characterized by frictionally weak material, elevated pore fluid pressure, or geometrical complexity. Creeping segments are assumed to safely release the accumulated strain(Kodaira et al., 2004; Rice, 1992)(Kodaira et al., 2004; Rice, 1992)(Kodaira et al., 2004; Rice, 1992)(Kodaira et al., 2004; Rice, 1992)(Kodaira et al., 2004; Rice, 1992) on the fault and also impede propagation of the seismic rupture. The rate of aseismic slip on creeping faults, however, might not be steady in time and instead consist of successive periods of acceleration and deceleration, known as slow slip events (SSEs). SSEs, which aseismically release the strain energy over a period of days to months, rather than the seconds to minutes characteristic of a typical earthquake, have been interpreted as earthquake precursors and as possible triggering factor for major earthquakes. Therefore, understanding the partitioning of seismic and aseismic fault slip and evolution of creep is fundamental to constraining the fault earthquake potential and improving operational seismic hazard models. Thanks to advances in tectonic geodesy, it is now possible to detect the fault movement in high spatiotemporal resolution and develop kinematic models of the creep evolution on the fault to determine the budget of seismic and aseismic slip.

In this dissertation, I measure the decades-long time evolution of fault-related crustal deformation along the San Andrea Fault in California and the northeast Japan subduction zone using space-borne geodetic techniques, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR). The surface observation of deformation combined with seismic data set allow constraining the time series of creep distribution on the fault surface at seismogenic depth. The obtained time-dependent kinematic models reveal that creep in both study areas evolves through a series of SSEs, each lasting for several months. Using physics-based models informed by laboratory experiments, I show that the transient elevation of pore fluid pressure is the driving mechanism of SSEs. I further investigate the link between SSEs and evolution of seismicity on neighboring locked segments, which has implications for seismic hazard models and also provides insights into the pattern of microstructure on the fault surface. I conclude that while creeping segments act as seismic rupture barriers, SSEs on these zones might promote seismicity on adjacent seismogenic segments, thus change the short-term earthquake forecast.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Mechanical Modeling of Natural and Anthropogenic Fluid-Rock Interactions: Volcano Deformation and Induced Seismicity

Description

The dynamic Earth involves feedbacks between the solid crust and both natural and anthropogenic fluid flows. Fluid-rock interactions drive many Earth phenomena, including volcanic unrest, seismic activities, and hydrological responses.

The dynamic Earth involves feedbacks between the solid crust and both natural and anthropogenic fluid flows. Fluid-rock interactions drive many Earth phenomena, including volcanic unrest, seismic activities, and hydrological responses. Mitigating the hazards associated with these activities requires fundamental understanding of the underlying physical processes. Therefore, geophysical monitoring in combination with modeling provides valuable tools, suitable for hazard mitigation and risk management efforts. Magmatic activities and induced seismicity linked to fluid injection are two natural and anthropogenic processes discussed in this dissertation.

Successful forecasting of the timing, style, and intensity of a volcanic eruption is made possible by improved understanding of the volcano life cycle as well as building quantitative models incorporating the processes that govern rock melting, melt ascending, magma storage, eruption initiation, and interaction between magma and surrounding host rocks at different spatial extent and time scale. One key part of such models is the shallow magma chamber, which is generally directly linked to volcano’s eruptive behaviors. However, its actual shape, size, and temporal evolution are often not entirely known. To address this issue, I use space-based geodetic data with high spatiotemporal resolution to measure surface deformation at Kilauea volcano. The obtained maps of InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) deformation time series are exploited with two novel modeling schemes to investigate Kilauea’s shallow magmatic system. Both models can explain the same observation, leading to a new compartment model of magma chamber. Such models significantly advance the understanding of the physical processes associated with Kilauea’s summit plumbing system with potential applications for volcanoes around the world.

The unprecedented increase in the number of earthquakes in the Central and Eastern United States since 2008 is attributed to massive deep subsurface injection of saltwater. The elevated chance of moderate-large damaging earthquakes stemming from increased seismicity rate causes broad societal concerns among industry, regulators, and the public. Thus, quantifying the time-dependent seismic hazard associated with the fluid injection is of great importance. To this end, I investigate the large-scale seismic, hydrogeologic, and injection data in northern Texas for period of 2007-2015 and in northern-central Oklahoma for period of 1995-2017. An effective induced earthquake forecasting model is developed, considering a complex relationship between injection operations and consequent seismicity. I find that the timing and magnitude of regional induced earthquakes are fully controlled by the process of fluid diffusion in a poroelastic medium and thus can be successfully forecasted. The obtained time-dependent seismic hazard model is spatiotemporally heterogeneous and decreasing injection rates does not immediately reduce the probability of an earthquake. The presented framework can be used for operational induced earthquake forecasting. Information about the associated fundamental processes, inducing conditions, and probabilistic seismic hazards has broad benefits to the society.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018