- Copyright © 2005 Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
A key question for the development of geothermal plants is the seismic detection and monitoring of fluid injections at several kilometers depth. The detection and monitoring limits are controlled by several parameters, for example, the strength of seismic sources, number of receivers, vertical stacking, and noise conditions. For a known reference reflector at 2.66 km depth at a geothermal site in northern Germany the results of a simple surface seismic experiment were therefore combined with numerical forward modeling for different injection scenarios at 3.8 km depth. The underlying idea is that changes of reflectivity from the injection at 3.8 km must be larger than the variance of the measurements to be observable. Assuming that the injection at 3.8 km depth would produce a subhorizontal disklike target with a fracture porosity of 2% or 5% (the critical porosity) the water injection volume has to be at least 443 and 115 m3, respectively, to be detectable from the surface. If the injection on the other hand does not create subhorizontal but subvertical pathways or only reduces the seismic velocities via the increased pore pressure in the immediate vicinity of the bore hole, the injection is undetectable from the surface. The most promising approach is therefore to move sources and/or receivers closer to the target, that is, the use of borehole instrumentation.