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Publication - Dr Juliet Biggs

    Seasonal patterns of seismicity and deformation at the Alutu geothermal reservoir, Ethiopia, induced by hydrological loading

    Citation

    Birhanu, Y, Wilks, M, Biggs, J, Kendall, JM, Ayele, A & Lewi, E, 2018, ‘Seasonal patterns of seismicity and deformation at the Alutu geothermal reservoir, Ethiopia, induced by hydrological loading’. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

    Abstract

    Seasonal variations in the seismicity of volcanic and geothermal reservoirs are usually attributed to the hydrological cycle. Here, we focus on the Aluto-Langano geothermal system, Ethiopia, where the climate is monsoonal and there is abundant shallow seismicity. We deployed temporary networks of seismometers and GPS receivers to understand the drivers of unrest. First, we show that a statistically significant peak in seismicity occurred 2–3 months after the main rainy season, with a second, smaller peak of variable timing. Seasonal seismicity is commonly attributed to variations in either surface loading or reservoir pore pressure. As loading will cause subsidence and overpressure will cause uplift, comparing seismicity rates with continuous GPS, enables us to distinguish between mechanisms. At Aluto, the major peak in seismicity is coincident with the high stand of nearby lakes and maximum subsidence, indicating that it is driven by surface loading. The magnitude of loading is insufficient to trigger widespread crustal seismicity but the geothermal reservoir at Aluto is likely sensitive to small perturbations in the stress field. Thus we demonstrate that monsoonal loading can produce seismicity in geothermal reservoirs, and the likelihood of both triggered and induced seismicity varies seasonally.

    Full details in the University publications repository