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Use of Micro-earthquake Recordings as an Exploration Tool for Geothermal Energy

The correlation of microearthquakes with geothermal energy is empirical and yet effective as an exploration tool.

Many geothermal explorationists consider the presence of microearthquakes on a prospect as a favorable indication of geothermal energy and their absence as negative. Such a “yes-no” categorization is a gross misuse of the tool. Additional information available from a modern microearthquake survey includes the regional tectonic style of the faulting; dip, strike and relative motions of active faults; large-scale velocity structure; an estimate of the seismicity rate; and correlation of presently active processes with the seismic history of the area. From the operations point of view, the stationariness of earthquake sequences is always questioned.

David Butler, program geophysicist, Zonge International