Fundamental Geosciences


Geophysical detection and monitoring of fluids, faults and coupled processes in the earth’s crust

DOE-SC-Basic Energy Sciences

Fluid injected into the Earth’s subsurface for a host of industrial applications (CO2 sequestration, geothermal energy generation, ground water cleanup, enhanced oil recovery) causes the porous rocks to deform and often induces fracture and/or slip along faults. The overall goal of this research is to understand in a quantitative way the coupling between flow and deformation and damage so that measurements of the deformation and damage along with changes in geophysical rock properties may be used to determine where the fluid is flowing and what processes the flow is provoking. The specific objectives of this inherently interdisciplinary project are to: (1) understand and model how faults in the Earth become unstable during fluid injection and how they become more stable during chemical healing; (2) understand (again to the point of being able to forward model) how geophysical properties of the subsurface change during fluid injection and through induced damage; (3) develop inversion procedures that exploit such forward models and allow measurements of deformation, acoustic emissions and controlled-source geophysical signals to provide images of what the injected fluid is doing in the subsurface. This is truly a team enterprise that could not be accomplished by any single PI.