Back-projection stacking of P- and S-waves to determine location and focal mechanism of microseismic events recorded by a surface array

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We present an automatic method of processing microseismic data acquired at the surface by a star-like array. The back-projection approach allows successive determination of the hypocenter position of each event and of its focal mechanisms. One-component vertical geophone groups and three-component accelerometers are employed to monitor both P- and S-waves. Hypocenter coordinates are determined in a grid by back-projection stacking of the short-time-average-to-long-time-average ratio of absolute amplitudes at vertical components and polarization norm derived from horizontal components of the P- and S-waves, respectively. To make the location process more efficient, calculation is started with a coarse grid and zoomed to the optimum hypocenter using an oct-tree algorithm. The focal mechanism is then determined by stacking the vertical component seismograms corrected for the theoretical P-wave polarity of the focal mechanism. The mechanism is resolved in the coordinate space of strike, dip, and rake angles. The method is tested on 34 selected events of a dataset of hydraulic fracture monitoring of a shale gas play in North America. It was found that, by including S-waves, the vertical accuracy of locations improved by a factor of two and is equal to approximately the horizontal location error. A twofold enhancement of horizontal location accuracy is achieved if a denser array of geophone groups is used instead of the sparse array of three-component seismometers. The determined focal mechanisms are similar to those obtained by other methods applied to the same dataset.

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