Manuel (Matt) Mendoza
Distributed Acoustic Sensing applied to induced seismicity
Deep injection of wastewater fluid associated with oil and gas production is known to be responsible for the triggering of earthquakes near dense population centers. This practice increases the seismic hazard for regions that are typically devoid of earthquakes and poses a risk to buildings and critical structures where appropriate safety measures are deficient. To address this, I will work with Anne Sheehan and Ge Jin (CSM) in utilizing a novel seismological technique known as distributed acoustic sensing (DAS), in Paradox Valley, Colorado, to improve our understanding of induced seismicity where conventional seismic networks may be insufficient or absent. DAS operates by using an opto-electronic system that emits pulses of light down a fiber optic cable and records naturally backscattered energy returning from varying segments. In essence, this instrument acts as a dense and mechanically flexible seismic array that consists of multitudinous broadband sensors sensitive enough to detect tiny subsurface strain events in high fidelity. We aim to exploit the capabilities of DAS to identify key features missed by the surrounding (yet sparse) network of seismometers in Paradox Valley; features that can offer more detailed and accurate information on the evolution of faults and stress transfer mechanisms that drive the induced seismicity phenomenon.