Linking microearthquakes to fracture permeability change: The role of surface roughness

Takuya Ishibashi, Noriaki Watanabe, Hiroshi Asanuma, Noriyoshi Tsuchiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Despite its importance, the relation between microearthquakes (MEQs) and changes in hydraulic properties during hydraulic stimulation of a fractured reservoir has rarely been explored, and it is still not well understood. To investigate this relation, we first formulate a plausible scale dependence, where fracture length and shear displacement are variables, for channeling flow through heterogeneous aperture distributions for joints and faults. By combining this formulation with the concept of the seismic moment, we derive quantitative relations between the moment magnitude (Mw) of MEQs and the fracture permeability change in the directions orthogonal to (kfault,⊥/kjoint) and parallel to (kfault,∥/kjoint) the shear displacement, in the form (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.). Despite the simplicity of the derivation, these relations have the potential to explain the results of field experiments on hydraulic stimulation, such as the enhanced geothermal systems at Soultz-sous-Fôret and Basel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7486-7493
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 28


  • channeling flow
  • induced microearthquakes
  • permeability
  • rock fracture
  • scale dependency
  • shear displacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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