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Journal Article
Trugman, DT, Shearer PM, Borsa AA, Fialko Y.  2016.  A comparison of long-term changes in seismicity at The Geysers, Salton Sea, and Coso geothermal fields. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 121:225-247.   10.1002/2015jb012510   AbstractWebsite

Geothermal energy is an important source of renewable energy, yet its production is known to induce seismicity. Here we analyze seismicity at the three largest geothermal fields in California: The Geysers, Salton Sea, and Coso. We focus on resolving the temporal evolution of seismicity rates, which provides important observational constraints on how geothermal fields respond to natural and anthropogenic loading. We develop an iterative, regularized inversion procedure to partition the observed seismicity rate into two components: (1) the interaction rate due to earthquake-earthquake triggering and (2) the smoothly varying background rate controlled by other time-dependent stresses, including anthropogenic forcing. We apply our methodology to compare long-term changes in seismicity to monthly records of fluid injection and withdrawal. At The Geysers, we find that the background seismicity rate is highly correlated with fluid injection, with the mean rate increasing by approximately 50% and exhibiting strong seasonal fluctuations following construction of the Santa Rosa pipeline in 2003. In contrast, at both Salton Sea and Coso, the background seismicity rate has remained relatively stable since 1990, though both experience short-term rate fluctuations that are not obviously modulated by geothermal plant operation. We also observe significant temporal variations in Gutenberg-Richter b value, earthquake magnitude distribution, and earthquake depth distribution, providing further evidence for the dynamic evolution of stresses within these fields. The differing field-wide responses to fluid injection and withdrawal may reflect differences in in situ reservoir conditions and local tectonics, suggesting that a complex interplay of natural and anthropogenic stressing controls seismicity within California's geothermal fields.

Lindsey, EO, Fialko Y.  2016.  Geodetic constraints on frictional properties and earthquake hazard in the Imperial Valley, Southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 121:1097-1113.   10.1002/2015jb012516   AbstractWebsite

We analyze a suite of geodetic observations across the Imperial Fault in southern California that span all parts of the earthquake cycle. Coseismic and postseismic surface slips due to the 1979 M 6.6 Imperial Valley earthquake were recorded with trilateration and alignment surveys by Harsh (1982) and Crook et al. (1982), and interseismic deformation is measured using a combination of multiple interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)-viewing geometries and continuous and survey-mode GPS. In particular, we combine more than 100 survey-mode GPS velocities with InSAR data from Envisat descending tracks 84 and 356 and ascending tracks 77 and 306 (149 total acquisitions), processed using a persistent scatterers method. The result is a dense map of interseismic velocities across the Imperial Fault and surrounding areas that allows us to evaluate the rate of interseismic loading and along-strike variations in surface creep. We compare available geodetic data to models of the earthquake cycle with rate- and state-dependent friction and find that a complete record of the earthquake cycle is required to constrain key fault properties including the rate-dependence parameter (a - b) as a function of depth, the extent of shallow creep, and the recurrence interval of large events. We find that the data are inconsistent with a high (>30mm/yr) slip rate on the Imperial Fault and investigate the possibility that an extension of the San Jacinto-Superstition Hills Fault system through the town of El Centro may accommodate a significant portion of the slip previously attributed to the Imperial Fault. Models including this additional fault are in better agreement with the available observations, suggesting that the long-term slip rate of the Imperial Fault is lower than previously suggested and that there may be a significant unmapped hazard in the western Imperial Valley.