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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
The National Seismic Hazard Assessment 2018 (NSHA 18) project intends to revise the existing seismic hazard map (AS1170.4 2007) for Australia. Geoscience Australia (GA) are leading the project along with a consortium of seismologists, geologists and earthquake engineers.
The NSHA 18, due to be released in 2018 is of great importance to dam owners and operators. The project intends to incorporate a comprehensive approach to seismic hazard, particularly in modelling uncertainty and variability.
The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) is an international consortium of scientists, engineers and policy makers. One of the primary aims of GEM is to provide a uniform set of tools for analysis in seismic hazard and risk. GEM was established to provide a framework for global standards in comparing risk analysis, awareness and actions in an effort to increase resilience to vulnerable communities.
The NSHA 18 will use the GEM framework in order to meet its own objectives for the new upcoming hazard map. The Seismology Research Centre will contribute to the NSHA 18 in three areas. Firstly, to produce a unified earthquake catalogue where GA will homogenise magnitudes to a uniform scale. Secondly, to produce a number of applicable alternate seismotectonic models, and thirdly, through the contribution of ground motion data collected over the last forty years within Australia.Learn more
Gary Gibson and Vicki-Ann Dimas
Earthquake recurrence models are based on observed seismicity, geological data and geodetic motion. They are particularly difficult to define in regions of low seismicity where the average recurrence interval between moderate to large earthquakes greatly exceeds the duration of the known earthquake catalogue.Learn more
The earthquake process may be considered as ongoing long-term deformation due to plate movement in the region about the fault, resulting in stress build-up, and a significant number of small earthquakes through the deformed region. Larger earthquakes occur at irregular intervals, with ruptures on the larger faults that release elastic strain energy from the region. Most strain energy release is during the large fault rupture.
This gives a wider range in hazard estimates compared with extrapolation methods, increasing hazard in regions of active faulting and reducing hazard where long-term geological stability can be observed. As dams are usually in regions with recent uplift, this method will tend to increase hazard estimates.