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Probabilistic assessment of uncertainties in induced seismic potential of the San Juan Basin CarbonSAFE Phase III deep saline carbon sequestration site
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  • Kevin L. McCormack,
  • Tom Bratton,
  • Ting Chen,
  • Brian McPherson
Kevin L. McCormack
University of Utah

Corresponding Author:kmccormack@egi.utah.edu

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Tom Bratton
Tom Bratton LLC
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Ting Chen
Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Brian McPherson
University of Utah
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Although geologic carbon sequestration projects have yet to induce – or may never induce – a damaging earthquake, experiences from other deep injection industries such as hydraulic fracturing, enhanced geothermal systems, and saltwater disposal suggest that effective quantitative seismic risk assessment is necessary for deep saline carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects. One such imminent CCS project is the San Juan Basin CarbonSAFE Phase III program. The study detailed in this paper utilizes Monte Carlo probabilistic geomechanical analyses combined with observations of the geological and operational parameters of the San Juan Basin site and suggests that this project is of low induced seismic risk. The primary analysis is split into four sections. First, we assessed the literature for faults and past seismicity, and at least five faulting scenarios are directly relevant. Second, we developed and calibrated an integrated earth model for the project site. Third, we performed Monte Carlo simulations that considered reasonable uncertainties of the geomechanical parameters. Only the Hogback flexural faulting scenario presented high Coulomb failure functions, but fourth, we determined the risk to be low based on the combined lack of historical seismicity, the geological framework of the flexural faults, and the presence of saltwater injection at the same depth as the proposed supercritical carbon dioxide injection. The most sensitive parameters in the geomechanical calculations were the fault dip and the coefficient of friction. The least sensitive were the fault strike and the orientation of the maximum horizontal principal stress.