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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-113
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-113
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 05 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 05 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

Fault reactivation by gas injection at an underground gas storage off the east coast of Spain

Antonio Villaseñor1, Robert B. Herrmann2, Beatriz Gaite1,a, and Arantza Ugalde1,b Antonio Villaseñor et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, CSIC, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University, MO 63108, USA
  • anow at: Instituto Geográfico Nacional, 28003 Madrid, Spain
  • bnow at: Institute of Marine Sciences, CSIC, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

Abstract. During September–October of 2013 an intense swarm of earthquakes occurred off the east coast of Spain associated with the injection of the base gas in an offshore underground gas storage. Two weeks after the end of the injection operations, three moderate-sized earthquakes (Mw 4.0–4.1) occurred near the storage. These events were widely felt by the nearby population, leading to the indefinite shut-down of the facility. Here we investigate the source parameters (focal depth and mechanism) of the largest earthquakes in the sequence in order to identify the faults reactivated by the gas injection, and to help understand the processes that caused the earthquakes. Our waveform modeling results indicate that the largest earthquakes occurred at depths of 6–8 km beneath the sea floor, significantly deeper than the injection depth (~ 1800 m). Although we cannot undoubtedly discriminate the fault plane from the two nodal planes of the mechanisms, most evidence seems to favor a NW-SE striking fault plane. We propose that the gas injection reactivated unmapped faults in the Paleozoic basement, with regional orientation possibly inherited from the opening of the Valencia Trough.

Antonio Villaseñor et al.
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Latest update: 19 Oct 2019
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Short summary
We present new earthquake focal depths and fault orientations for earthquakes occurred in 2013 in the vicinity of an underground gas storage off the east coast of Spain. Our focal depths are in the range of 5–10 km, notably deeper than the depth of the gas injection (2 km). The obtained fault orientations also differ from the predominant faults at shallow depths. This suggests that the faults reactivated are deeper, previously unmapped faults occurring beneath the sedimentary layers.
We present new earthquake focal depths and fault orientations for earthquakes occurred in 2013...
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