U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Geothermal Technologies Office

Seismic Monitoring a Critical Step in EGS Development

December 3, 2013

Seismic monitoring system

MagiQ and Sandia National Laboratory developed a high-temperature wellbore deployment system, which comprises a housing package equipped with a latching arm that mechanically clamps the tool system to the borehole wall. The middle section is the arm that swings out and clamps to the wellbore.

The ability to accurately locate and characterize the release of seismic energy, generated from micro earthquakes (MEQ) is of paramount importance to the development and monitoring of EGS. MagiQ Technologies Inc., a small, innovative business, has developed a seismic sensor that does just that, all while operating at temperatures up to 300°C. In FY 2013, MagiQ successfully completed a Small Business Innovative Research* Phase II award. This project culminated in the third-party testing and evaluation of their optical-based seismic sensor at Sandia National Laboratory’s (SNL) Ground-Based Monitoring Research and Evaluation Center.  MagiQ’s sensor offers a number of important technical advantages: the sensor package does not contain electronic components that are failure-prone at high temperatures, and it can be scaled to hundreds of sensors deployed on a single optical fiber. Preliminary results show sub-Hz to multi-kHz frequency response, with sensitivity less than 10 ng/Hz1/2 (up to 1 kHz), sampling rates up to 10 MHz, with a dynamic range of 80 decibels. The success of this technology development was made possible by a strong private-public partnership between MagiQ and SNL. In a separate effort, SNL Geothermal Research Division developed a high-temperature wellbore deployment system, which comprises a housing package equipped with a latching arm that mechanically clamps the tool system to the borehole wall. MagiQ integrated their sensor package with SNL’s deployment tool for a combined high temperature seismic monitoring system. The full system was tested in a borehole at SNL’s Ground-Based Monitoring Research and Evaluation Center. Based on the success of their SBIR Phase II project, MagiQ is now commercializing their technology and expects a pilot deployment early in 2014. To date, the project has hired five new employees and expects to hire an additional five full-time equivalents next year.

* The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program engages in highly competitive federal research and development that has commercial-scale potential. SBIR seeds capital in small businesses to stimulate technological innovation, and awards are based on feasibility of innovative concepts, strength of the scientific/technical approach, cost efficiency, and the potential impact for replicable commercialization.