Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2021-100
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2021-100

  06 Aug 2021

06 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SE.

De-risking the energy transition by quantifying the uncertainties in fault stability

David Healy1 and Stephen Hicks2 David Healy and Stephen Hicks
  • 1School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ United Kingdom

Abstract. The operations needed to decarbonise our energy systems increasingly involve faulted rocks in the subsurface. To manage the technical challenges presented by these rocks and the justifiable public concern over induced seismicity, we need to assess the risks. Widely used measures for fault stability, including slip and dilation tendency and fracture susceptibility, can be combined with Response Surface Methodology from engineering and Monte Carlo simulations to produce statistically viable ensembles for the analysis of probability. In this paper, we describe the implementation of this approach using custom-built open source Python code (pfs – probability of fault slip). The technique is then illustrated using two synthetic datasets and two case studies drawn from active or potential sites for geothermal energy in the UK, and discussed in the light of induced seismicity focal mechanisms. The analysis of probability highlights key gaps in our knowledge of the stress field, fluid pressures and rock properties. Scope exists to develop, integrate and exploit citizen science projects to generate more and better data, and simultaneously include the public in the necessary discussions about hazard and risk.

David Healy and Stephen Hicks

Status: open (until 05 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on se-2021-100', Bill Lanyon, 09 Aug 2021 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', David Healy, 09 Aug 2021 reply
      • CC2: 'Reply on AC1', Bill Lanyon, 09 Aug 2021 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on se-2021-100', Jonathan Turner, 22 Sep 2021 reply

David Healy and Stephen Hicks

David Healy and Stephen Hicks

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Short summary
The energy transition involves operations in faulted rocks. To manage the technical challenges and public concern over induced earthquakes, we need to quantify the risks. We calculate the probability of fault slip based on uncertain inputs – stresses and fluid pressures, and the mechanical properties of rocks in fault zones. Our examples highlight the specific gaps in our knowledge. Citizen science projects could produce useful data, and include the public in the discussions about hazard.