WG5 - Applications in the natural environment and industry

 Working Group leader: Christopher Bean



The recent catastrophic events in Japan (2011), Chile (2010), Haiti (2010) and Italy (2009) are reminders of the need to better understand the predisposition to earthquakes (and possible associated tsunamis and landslides).

The recent Japan (2011) and Sumatra (2004) mega­thrust events are forcing a revision of the decades­old paradigm for tsunamigenic earthquakes and a reassessment of the corresponding risk worldwide.

Large explosive volcanic eruptions can have even larger impacts on society: the one which occurred in Iceland in 2010 highly affected the flight scheduling in North and Central Europe and completely paralyzed a few airports; while an unquantified risk is posed by the possible reactivation of the Vesuvius – Phlegrean Fields system in a highly inhabited area.

The interpretation of changes of elastic properties in term of physical process is difficult and ambiguous. Simultaneously with the accumulation of actual observations of the temporal changes, the different possible mechanisms have to be studied quantitatively in a pluri­disciplinary effort.

Different physical processes were proposed including non­linear mesoscopic elasticity, poroelasticity, and damage. It is required to gather specialists of seismology and tectonics with experts of rock mechanics and material physics to develop an interpretative framework for the time variable response of elastic speed which has to be adapted to various forcings such as earthquake, transient slow slip, hydraulic loading, magma ascent.

The other main domain of application of seismic monitoring of time variations is in the industrial field, related to monitoring of oil/gas reservoirs. Better imaging, monitoring and management of the reservoirs such as aquifers, magma chambers or oil/gas fields are crucial to our long­term supply of water, geothermal energy, oil and gas.

Understanding spatial and temporal variations in such sites requires an integrated multidisciplinary approach. For example, the geomechanical response to production or injection is linked to observable seismic, geophysical and geochemical signals, which may be used as monitoring tools.

Modeling deformation and seismic waveform propagation in such structures requires sophisticated mathematical and computer modelling, which can be linked to in situ observations. Laboratory simulations of fluid­rock interactions in such settings can be done both numerically and experimentally.

PhD projects in this theme will be inherently multidisciplinary, exploiting different strengths at several Institutions and industrial partners in TIDES. This working group will also address the needs of industry in terms of what specific training may be requested to academia, to form excellent European candidates for high­level jobs.