Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Microseismicity during geothermal stimulation at the Ngatamariki geothermal field: New detections via a matched- filter method

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posted on 2021-12-07, 12:59 authored by Matson, Gabriel

The high-temperature, fluid-dominated Ngatamariki geothermal field is located in the central Taupo Volcanic Zone, North Island, New Zealand, and is used to generate electricity via an 82 MW power plant. Injection wells have been in operation since June 2012. During June and July 2012, injection well NM8 was injected with with cold water in order to improve reservoir permeability. Geothermal stimulation and production may trigger microearthquakes by fluid flow through the reservoir. Close clustering of microseismic events’ hypocentres relative to the source-receiver distance results in many events having similar waveforms. We capitalize on this relationship by using a matched-filter detection method in which high-quality seismograms corresponding to a well-recorded earthquake (“templates”) are cross-correlated against continuous data to reveal additional earthquakes with similar characteristics. Clustering of the detections’ hypocenters also implies that small variations in travel times between two events corresponds to small differences in hypocentral locations, which is the foundation of the double-difference relocation method.  Using an 11 station seismic network, we detect 863 events via cross-correlation of 110 matched-filter templates during the two months stimulation testing. We locate each of these detections using a double-difference relocation method by which events are relocated based on relative travel times. The locatable seismicity delineates: a northern Ngatamariki cluster, a southern Ngatamariki cluster, and a cluster to the south, at the neighboring Rotokawa field. Seismicity in the northern Ngatamariki cluster (522 events) is of greatest interest for this project due to its proximity to well NM8 and temporal signature relative to injection. The seismicity cluster centers around well NM8 at a depth of 2.1 km below sea level. Events in this cluster extend to up to 2.5 km from the injection well. An increase in seismicity near NM8 lags behind the onset of injection by 4–8 days. In contrast, a seismicity-rate decrease coincides with injection shut-in without any time lag. Local magnitudes in this cluster span the range −0.09 ≤ Ml ≤ 1.66 with a completeness magnitude of 0.25. Seismicity within 200 m of NM8 is induced by thermal stresses caused by the difference in temperature between the injectate and the reservoir. Seismicity further than 200 m, but still within this cluster, from NM8 is induced via pore fluid pressure increases from the injected fluid. The coupled mechanism acts on two different length scales and is known as a thermoporoelastic mechanism. The matched-filter detection of microseismic events allows interpretation of extent of injection well stimulation and the relationship between injection and seismicity.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Savage, Martha; Townend, John