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Absence of remote earthquake triggering within the Coso and Salton Sea geothermal production fields

Zhang, Qiong and Lin, Guoqing and Zhan, Zhongwen and Chen, Xiaowei and Qin, Yan and Wdowinski, Shimon (2017) Absence of remote earthquake triggering within the Coso and Salton Sea geothermal production fields. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (2). pp. 726-733. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1002/2016GL071964.

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Geothermal areas are long recognized to be susceptible to remote earthquake triggering, probably due to the high seismicity rates and presence of geothermal fluids. However, anthropogenic injection and extraction activity may alter the stress state and fluid flow within the geothermal fields. Here we examine the remote triggering phenomena in the Coso geothermal field and its surrounding areas to assess possible anthropogenic effects. We find that triggered earthquakes are absent within the geothermal field but occur in the surrounding areas. Similar observation is also found in the Salton Sea geothermal field. We hypothesize that continuous geothermal operation has eliminated any significant differential pore pressure between fractures inside the geothermal field through flushing geothermal precipitations and sediments out of clogged fractures. To test this hypothesis, we analyze the pore-pressure-driven earthquake swarms, and they are found to occur outside or on the periphery of the geothermal production field. Therefore, our results suggest that the geothermal operation has changed the subsurface fracture network, and differential pore pressure is the primary controlling factor of remote triggering in geothermal fields.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Zhang, Qiong0000-0002-8762-0557
Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Additional Information:© 2017 American Geophysical Union. Received 15 NOV 2016; Accepted 4 JAN 2017; Accepted article online 7 JAN 2017; Published online 21 JAN 2017. Geothermal injection and production data are obtained from the DOGGR (accessible from Catalog data for distant earthquakes are available from the ISC website ( We thank the SCEDC for providing the local earthquake data. We thank the editor, Andrew Newman and two reviewers David P. Hill and Chastity Aiken for constructive comments that helped improve the manuscript. This paper benefited from discussion with Hiroo Kanamori and Michael Manga. We thank Heresh Fattahi for providing the InSAR results. This research work was supported by the National Science Foundation grant EAR-1447105 and partially supported by the SCEC grant 16071.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)16071
Subject Keywords:remote triggering; geothermal fields
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170323-083649784
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:75348
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Mar 2017 19:28
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 16:32

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