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Strathprints serves world leading Open Access research by the University of Strathclyde, including research by the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS), where research centres such as the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), the Cancer Research UK Formulation Unit, SeaBioTech and the Centre for Biophotonics are based.

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Microseismicity illuminates open fractures in the shallow crust

Pytharouli, Stella and Lunn, Rebecca and Shipton, Zoe and Kirkpatrick, James and do Nascimento, Aderson (2011) Microseismicity illuminates open fractures in the shallow crust. Geophysical Research Letters, 38. ISSN 0094-8276

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Abstract

Successful delivery of geological carbon storage and/or radioactive waste disposal relies on the ability to predict the transport of waste stored/disposed of at depth, over 103 to 106 years. Field evidence shows that faults and fractures can act as focused pathways for contaminant migration. Hence, transport predictions require detailed characterization of fracture location, orientation and hydraulic properties. We show that microseismic monitoring can delineate the three‐dimensional structure and hydraulic characteristics of flowing fractures at 2 to 3 km depth. Individual fracture planes are validated by independently derived composite focal mechanisms. Local field observations confirm the presence of open fractures with lengths and orientations matching the seismically‐derived fracture planes. The temporal evolution of seismicity within individual fractures allows us to estimate depth‐averaged transmissivity and in‐plane fluid velocity distributions. Our results demonstrate the potential of microseismic monitoring to characterize flowing fractures, for non‐invasive site investigation at CO2 and radioactive waste storage/disposal sites.