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Vicki-Ann Dimas, Wayne Peck, Gary Gibson and Russell Cuthbertson
Globally, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS) is a phenomenon sometimes observed in newly constructed large dams worldwide, for over 50 years now. Over 95 sites have been identified to have caused RTS by the infilling of water reservoirs upon completion of their constructions worldwide. In Australia, there are seven confirmed sites with observed RTS phenomenon that are summarized by temporal and spatial means.Learn more
With almost 40 years of seismic monitoring, primarily within eastern Australia, several of Australia’s largest dams have monitored and recorded many RTS events. At present, twelve dams are 100 metres and above in height as possible candidates, with seven of these actually causing RTS and a disputed possible eighth dam.
Important factors of RTS are reservoir characteristics (depth of the water column and reservoir volume), geological and tectonic features (how active nearby faults are and how close to the next cycle of stress release they are temporally) and ground water pore pressure (decrease in pore volume under compaction of weight of reservoir and diffusion of reservoir water through porous rock beneath). RTS is an adjustment process often delayed for several years after infilling of reservoir before eventually subsiding within 10 to 30 years, when seismic activity then returns to its prior state of stress.
Generally there are two type of RTS events, either a major fault near the reservoir most likely leading to an earthquake exceeding magnitude 5.0 to 6.0, or more commonly, a series of small shallow earthquakes.
Seismic monitoring of all dams (except for Ord River) are presented with spatial and temporal series of maps and cross sections, showing the largest earthquake, build-up and decay of RTS events.
Keywords: Seismic monitoring, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS), earthquake cycle
Elodie Borleis, Russell Cuthbertson
There are a number of software packages that have been developed to conduct Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Assessments (PSHA’s). Each one has advantages and disadvantages. Two such programs are compared; the licenced subscription-based EZ-FRISK software package developed by Fugro USA Land, Inc. and the open-sourced OpenQuake-engine (OQ) software package by the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation. Both of these packages use the classical PSHA methodology as described by Cornell (1968) and modified by McGuire (1976). Each of these packages offers different advantages; OQ is freely distributed, code based and provides easy access to a number of tools. EZ-FRISK doesn’t rely on command-line tools and instead provides an easy user interface with quick access to plots to check results. EZ-FRISK is computationally faster than the OQ program.
A simple rectangular source model with four sites was used to investigate the degree of agreement between these two software packages. Results indicate that hazard estimates from the two packages agree to within 4% for the two closest sites. At long return periods for the two furthest sites, the difference is larger.Learn more
Russell Cuthbertson and Leanne Capewell
While structures such as a dam walls, pipelines, gas storage tanks, and nuclear facilities are vulnerable to the shaking from earthquakes, they are even more susceptible to differential movement on faults passing beneath their foundations.
In the past, the probability of surface rupture of a fault was calculated by making some simplistic assumptions about the distribution of earthquake magnitudes. Improved databases of earthquake ground faulting now allow the probability of surface rupture to be estimated in a more realistic fashion. Computing software that uses a Monte Carlo approach has been developed to allow the effect of various scenario choices on rupture probability to be investigated.
Using this software, it is found that the most significant influence on rupture probability is the long-term fault slip-rate. Other assumptions about the faulting style, maximum magnitude and conversion parameters have only a moderate influence on the results.
There have been several instances in recent history in Australia of surface faulting due to earthquakes, but there has been only limited damage to infrastructure due to the remoteness of these earthquakes. The software that has been developed will allow a considered assessment and comparison of the hazard and risk due to both ground shaking from earthquakes and from surface rupture.Learn more
Two techniques were used to calculate seismic hazard at a number of locations in southeast Australia. To simplify matters only Peak Ground Accelerations were compared.Learn more
The first technique used a seismological model of areal source zones that was based on the recorded seismicity as well as geological and tectonic inputs. Each zone was assigned a rate of earthquake activity that had been calculated from the recorded seismicity and a magnitude completeness function. Known geological faults that are also part of the model had to be excluded to allow a direct comparison with the second technique. A standard probabilistic seismic hazard analysis then gave PGA values versus return periods. This is the approach that has been used for the current Australian earthquake loading code (AS1170.4).
The second technique used a simple historical approach whereby recorded earthquakes were combined with an attenuation function to directly give the estimated return periods. This approach takes no account of tectonics, geological terranes or faulting – it simply uses the known, recorded earthquake catalogue. This is the technique used in the original Australian earthquake loading code (AS 2121).
The same ground motion attenuation function was used in both techniques but for a direct comparison the aleatory variability was set to zero in the probabilistic case because the historical approach did not include this effect.
In the historical approach the variability in completeness of the recorded catalogue was not considered. It was simply assumed that all earthquakes producing accelerations greater than a given value would be recorded over the last 100 years.
The comparisons were made for minimum considered magnitudes of 4 and 5.
There was general agreement between the two approaches especially at shorter return periods (lower PGA amplitudes). At longer return periods (higher PGA amplitudes) where there were higher uncertainties, the results at some sites diverged.
This simple comparison of two approaches to the same problem of estimating earthquake hazard is shown to be of value in ensuring that the AUS5 model used by SRC is producing results that are consistent with the historically recorded data.