U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Geothermal Technologies Office
DOE Releases Updated Induced Seismicity Protocol
January 30, 2012
At the 37th Stanford Geothermal
Workshop in Stanford, California, the Geothermal Technologies Program at the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released an updated Induced Seismicity
Protocol. This document supplements the existing International Energy Agency
(IEA) protocol of 2009, and is intended to be a living document kept up-to-date
with state-of-the-art knowledge and practices.
Induced seismicity is typically defined as small scale
microseismic events which can accompany a number of industrial and energy
activities. During the process of creating an underground heat exchanger in an
EGS reservoir, stress patterns in the rock may change, resulting in microseismic
events. In almost all cases, these events are of relatively small magnitude,
and by the time the energy reaches the surface, the vast majority are rarely
To promote the safety of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)
projects and to help gain acceptance from the general public for geothermal
activities in general, and EGS projects specifically, this Protocol clarifies
the role and risks of induced seismicity, which can occur during the
development stages of an EGS reservoir and the subsequent extraction of geothermal
This Protocol provides a set of guidance detailing useful
steps geothermal project proponents can take to address induced seismicity
issues. The procedures are not prescriptive, but suggest an approach to engage and
inform public officials, industry, regulators, and the general public. The
procedures promote public safety and proactive sharing of information.
By establishing a framework for communication and
emphasizing stakeholder needs, the Protocol will facilitate the successful deployment
of EGS projects, thus increasing the availability of clean, renewable and baseload
energy in the United States.
Read the updated Protocol,
visit the Geothermal Technologies Program website or learn
more about EGS.