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Research on natural seismicity part of project in the Upper Rhine Graben, Germany

Drill pad of Gross-Gerau project, Hesse/ Germany (source : Erdwaerme Gross Gerau)
Alexander Richter 21 Jan 2016

A research project in the Upper Rhine Graben in Germany has been measuring natural seismicity and aims to record any induced seismicity events caused by the construction and commissioning of a geothermal plant.

Ahead of the geothermal project at Gross-Gerau in the Upper Rhine Graben in the German state of Hesse, a larger research project has been conducted on natural seismicity.

In an article published in Germany by BINE Information Service, the project is introduced.

The Upper Rhine Graben, is one of the key geothermal resource areas of Germany, with hot water resources at an attainable depth level. This geological feature, so the article, “is caused by the fact that the deep rock strata has remained in motion to this day. This repeatedly causes slight natural earthquakes in the region. In rare cases, however, human activities, such as the construction and operation of geothermal plants, can also trigger shocks. This effect is called induced seismicity. Prior to constructing a geothermal plant in Groß-Gerau, researchers have therefore been measuring the natural seismicity in the region using a dense monitoring network.

Around two to three natural earthquakes occur in the northern Upper Rhine Graben every month. Mostly they are so weak that people cannot feel them or only in close proximity to the epicentre. Geophysical measurement instruments, however, do not miss them.

Geoscientists from Goethe University of Frankfurt have been operating a seismic monitoring network in cooperation with partners. 36 stations with different equipment have been recording the natural seismicity from the nano to the macro range.

In addition, the data from existing seismic monitoring stations in the region has also been included. The measurements were carried out from November 2011 to September 2015. The aim was also to precisely pinpoint macro- and micro-earthquakes. The majority of the monitoring network will continue to provide ongoing system monitoring throughout the construction phase and operation of the geothermal plant and thus measure both natural and induced events. The general public can view the measurement readings on a web portal (German). The project, which is called SiMoN, forms part of energy research conducted by the German federal government. The name stands for Seismic Monitoring in relation to the geothermal use of the Northern Upper Rhine Graben.”

The project starts drilling early this year and start operation of the plant in 2017.

For details on the research study, see link below. Details on the project can be found here (in German).

Source: BINE Information Service