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Project Title:

Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies
PIN: DELS-BESR-10-05        

Major Unit:

Division on Earth and Life Studies

Sub Unit: Board on Earth Sciences & Resources

RSO: Eide, Elizabeth

Subject/Focus Area: Earth Sciences; Energy and Energy Conservation; Engineering and Technology

Project Scope
Fluid injection under pressure into the subsurface is an essential component of many different types of energy technologies, including carbon capture and storage (CCS), enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), production from gas shales, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR).  A potentially adverse side effect of subsurface fluid injection in all of these technologies is induced seismicity.  However, there are significant differences among the technologies of interest in terms of maturity of the technology and geological settings, which could impact induced seismicity considerations. Much of public opposition to the deployment of advanced energy technologies in the United States stems from a lack of clear, trusted information regarding the safety of new energy facilities neighboring local communities.  An ad hoc committee of the NRC will examine the potential impacts of induced seismicity related to fluid injection in the development and production of energy as a whole, as well as for individual technologies.

This study should build on the information already existing on this subject from a variety of sources, including recent workshops focused on induced seismicity. The study will focus on areas of interest related to CCS, EGS, production from gas shales, and EOR, and will:

- summarize the current state-of-the-art knowledge on the possible scale, scope and consequences of seismicity induced during the injection of fluids related to energy production, including lessons learned from other causes of induced seismicity;
- identify gaps in knowledge and the research needed to advance the understanding of induced seismicity, its causes, effects, and associated risks;
- identify gaps and deficiencies in current hazard assessment methodologies for induced seismicity and research needed to close those gaps; 
- identify and assess options for interim steps toward best practices, pending resolution of key outstanding research questions.

The study will identify the research needs to give policy makers the information they need to develop better safety guidelines and provide energy developers with tools to implement appropriate risk mitigation efforts and to choose safe sites for new projects. This study will provide information to communities interested in the nation’s safe and confident progress toward a cleaner energy future.

The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The approximate start date for the project is 09/29/2010.

The report is expected to be issued in approximately 18 months.

Project Duration: 23 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 01/28/2011
 Meeting 2 - 02/22/2011
 Meeting 3 - 04/26/2011
 Meeting 4 - 07/13/2011
 Meeting 5 - 08/18/2011
 Meeting 6 - 09/14/2011
 Meeting 7 - 11/10/2011
 Meeting 8 - 01/10/2012


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies