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Monitoring of a geothermal reservoir by hybrid gravimetry; feasibility study applied to the Soultz-sous-Forêts and Rittershoffen sites in the Rhine graben

Jacques Hinderer1, Marta Calvo1,2, Yassine Abdelfettah1,3, Basile Hector1, Umberto Riccardi4, Gilbert Ferhat1,5 and Jean-Daniel Bernard1
1 Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg UMR 7516 CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, 5 rue Descartes, Strasbourg 67084, France
2 Observatorio Geofísico Central, IGN, Madrid, Spain
3Institut für Nukleare Entsorgung INE, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
4 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell’Ambiente e delle Risorse (DiSTAR), Università “Federico II” di Napoli, Naples, Italy
5 INSA Strasbourg, 24 boulevard de la Victoire, Strasbourg 67084, France
Geothermal Energy2015, 3:16 
The study is devoted to the monitoring of a geothermal reservoir by hybrid gravimetry combining different types of instruments (permanent superconducting gravimeter, absolute ballistic gravimeter, and micro-gravimeters) and different techniques of measurements (both time-discrete and recording data collection). Using a micro-gravimetric repetition network around a reference station, which is regularly measured, leads to the knowledge of the time and space changes in surface gravity. Such changes can be linked to the natural or anthropic activities of the reservoir. A feasibility study using this methodology is applied to two geothermal sites in the Alsace region (France) of the Rhine graben. We show the results in terms of gravity double differences from weekly repetitions of a network of 11 stations around the geothermal reservoir of Soultz-sous-Forêts, separated into 5 loops during July–August 2013 and 2014 as well as preliminary results from 2 stations near Rittershoffen (ECOGI). We point out the importance of a precise leveling of the gravity points for the control of the vertical deformation. A first modeling of surface gravity changes induced by realistic geothermal density perturbations (Newtonian attraction) is computed in the frame of the existing geological model and leads to gravity changes below the μGal level being hence undetectable. However, and for the same case, borehole gravity modeling showed a significant anomaly with depth that can be used as a complementary monitoring method. We show that in the limit of our uncertainties (SD ~ 5 μGal), we do not detect any significant gravity change on the geothermal site of Soultz in agreement with the fact that there was indeed no geothermal activity during our analysis period. On the contrary, the measurements near Rittershoffen show a signal above the noise level which correlates in time with a production test but cannot be explained in terms of Newtonian attraction effects according to our basic numerical simulation.
Key-words: HybridGravimetry, Geothermal Reservoir, Monitoring