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On the b-value Dependency of Injection-Induced Seismicity on Geomechanical Parameters
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  • Yusuke mukuhira,
  • Takatoshi Ito,
  • Michael Fehler,
  • Elvar K Bjarkason,
  • Hiroshi Asanuma,
  • Markus O. Häring
Yusuke mukuhira
Tohoku University

Corresponding Author:mukuhira@tohoku.ac.jp

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Takatoshi Ito
Tohoku University
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Michael Fehler
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Elvar K Bjarkason
Tohoku University
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Hiroshi Asanuma
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
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Markus O. Häring
Häring Geo-Project
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Variability in the b-value, which describes the frequency distribution of earthquake magnitudes, is usually attributed to variations in differential stress in the setting of natural and laboratory earthquakes. However, differential stress is unlikely to explain b-value variations on the reservoir scale of injection-induced seismicity cases where significant differential stress variability can hardly be expected. We investigate the responsible geomechanical parameters for the b-value reduction observed in injection-induced seismicity at the Basel EGS field in Switzerland, for which a measured in-situ stress model and fault orientations of numerous microseismic events are available. We estimate the shear and normal stresses along faults, differential stress, pore pressure increase at failure, and the Coulomb failure stress, for each event. Event magnitude and shear stress display the most systematic and clear correlation between each other, while other parameters do not show a clear correlation with event magnitude. We further examine the relationship between the b-value and these geomechanical parameters. We discover that the b-value systematically decreases with increasing shear stress. Again, other geomechanical parameters do not show a clear correlation with the b-value. We conclude that b-value variability is explained by variations in shear stress in the injection-induced seismicity setting, where near constant differential stress conditions are expected. Furthermore, we observe that b-value reduction with time also correlates with an increasing number of events along faults having high shear stress, which strongly supports our conclusions. Thus, we discovered a profound physical mechanism behind b-value variation in injection-induced seismicity beyond general understandings of b-value variation.