Snap, crackle or pop? Understanding induced seismicity from fluid injection

  • Supervisors: Prof Dan Faulkner, University of Liverpool
    Dr. Ben Edwards, University of Liverpool

  • External Supervisors:

  • Contact:

    Prof. Dan Faulkner, University of Liverpool,

  • CASE Partner:

Application deadline: 10 January 2020


Subsurface fluid injection is a fundamental part of carbon storage, geothermal energy production, and unconventional resource production. The process leads commonly to induced seismicity that can vary widely, from small numerous events to fewer but larger events. Often there is a time delay between injection and induced earthquakes. There currently is a poor understanding about what controls the nature of the induced seismicity. There is a strong need to develop clean energy production and to reduce greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere, as well as to ensure energy security in the short term. In order for these industries to succeed, the level to which seismicity occurs during fluid injection, and what factors influence the nature of induced seismicity must be better understood.

Project Summary:

This project will investigate how intrinsic material properties, in situ stress state and fluid injection rates affect the nature of seismicity.

The project will address this problem experimentally, where experimental faults will be subjected to simulated in situ stress conditions and injected with fluids in order to promote and study the nature of the induced ‘labquakes’. The mineralogical composition of the experimental faults will be varied between experiments, so that the response of ‘rate strengthening’ faults (that may be expected to produce stable fault slip) and ‘rate weakening’ faults (that could produce unstable slip and hence seismicity) can be monitored during different fluid injection rates. The induced labquakes will be measured using acoustic sensors within the apparatus.

All training in the use of the experimental apparatus will be provided. This project will suit a hands-on practical numerate earth scientist.


Ellsworth WL (2013). Injection-Induced Earthquakes. Science 341 (6142):1225942. doi: 10.1126/science.1225942. 

Cappa F, et al. (2019). Stabilization of fault slip by fluid injection in the laboratory and in situ. Sci. Adv. 5 (3): eaau4065. 

Faulkner DR, Sanchez-Roa C, Boulton C, den Hartog SAM (2018). Pore fluid pressure development in compacting fault gouge in theory, experiments, and nature. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 123 (1):226-241. 

Scuderi, MM, Collettini C (2016). The role of fluid pressure in induced vs. triggered seismicity: Insights from rock deformation experiments on carbonates, Sci. Rep. 6, 1–9.

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