Reservoir-triggered seismicity in Brazil: statistical characteristics in a midplate environment


Reservoir-triggered seismicity (RTS) was first reported in Brazil in the early 1970s. Here, we update the compilation of Assumpção et al. (2002), increasing the number of RTS from 16 to 26 cases. We briefly describe eight new cases that had been published in congress proceedings. We compare this updated RTS database with all Brazilian dams taller than 20 m. The reservoirs that triggered earthquakes were analyzed in relation to dam height, reservoir volume, geology, seismicity level, and stress provinces. The chance of a reservoir-triggering seismicity clearly increases with dam height, as is well known: the chance is only 2% for heights between 20 and 50 m in Brazil, increases to 8% between 50 and 100 m, and reaches 65% for dams taller than 100 m. The reservoir volume also has a clear influence: 26% of the reservoirs with volumes between 1.0 and 10 km3 triggered earthquakes, and the chance increases to 47% for volumes larger than 10 km3. No clear correlation with the geology was found. Dams built on igneous rocks tend to be slightly more prone to RTS, compared with those built on sedimentary rocks, but the difference is not statistically significant. No difference was found among the three main types of geological provinces (cratonic basement, Neoproterozoic fold belts, and intracratonic Phanerozoic basins). A tentative comparison with the yet poorly defined stress provinces in Brazil did not show any difference between regions of compressional stresses and regions with shear stresses. On the other hand, comparison of the fraction of reservoirs producing RTS in natural seismic and aseismic areas showed that regions with natural seismicity have twice as much potential for RTS than aseismic regions. Although dam height is the most influential characteristics, the maximum magnitude does not show any clear correlation with dam height or reservoir size, similar to other cases worldwide.

BARROS, Lucas Vieira; ASSUMPÇÃO, Marcelo; RIBOTTA, Luis Carlos; FERREIRA, Vinícius M.; CARVALHO, Juraci M. de; BOWEN, Brigida M.D.; ALBUQUERQUE, Diogo F. Reservoir-triggered seismicity characteristics in a midplate environment. Bulletin of the Seismology Society of America, v.108, n.5B, p.3046-3061, nov., 2018.

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