Subsurface Monitoring

Integrated monitoring techniques for real-time, high-resolution subsurface characterization

Dedicated field observatories and permanently installed sensors accelerate our understanding of complex subsurface phenomena. We are developing transferable approaches to interrogate or guide adaptive control at sites important for subsurface energy. EESA has greatly enhanced efforts to develop dedicated observatories in different rock types across a wide range of energy geosciences applications, from geothermal energy extraction to geologic carbon sequestration, unconventional hydrocarbon production and nuclear waste disposal.

At field observatories we deploy and test advanced in situ monitoring systems with massively improved spatial and temporal resolution for truly autonomous reservoir monitoring. For example:

  • For the Otway CO2 sequestration pilot test project in Australia, permanently installed fiber-optic cables as Distributed Acoustic Sensors (DAS) with Surface Orbital Vibrators seismic sources (SOV) represent a more efficient approach to continuous monitoring compared to conventional time-lapse seismic with vibrator trucks and geophones
  • At the Containment and Monitoring Institute site in Canada (CaMI), we deployed Continuous Active-Source Seismic Monitoring systems (CASSM) coupled with Electromagnetics to detect and quantify the evolution of CO2 plumes
  • At the EGS Collab SURF site in South Dakota, we co-deployed DAS, Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS), CASSM, microearthquake (MEQ), electrical resistance tomography (ERT), and conventional temperature, pressure, and flow measurements. Using these techniques, we monitored in real-time hydraulic fracturing and shearing of fractures during stimulation and flow tests.

Several other key observatories are providing testbeds for our instruments, theories, and models for hydraulic fracturing in shales (EFSL), detection of induced seismicity in deep CO2 storage (Aquistore), CO2 storage paired with pressure management and desalination (BEST), and nuclear waste disposal (Mont Terri Project, HotBENT at Grimsel Test Site).

Recent science & program advances

  • Demonstrated the combination of SOVs as seismic sources and fiber optic-based DAS to allow cost-effective, on-demand, and minimally invasive monitoring approaches for land-based acquisition
  • Using autonomous or on-demand acquisition of seismic data with rotary SOV sources to produce real-time, time-lapse seismic data for permanent reservoir monitoring, which rivals state-of-the-art technologies
  • CASSM technology demonstrated the ability to measure variations in stress states and to monitor rapidly changing fluid pathways for real-time subsurface risk assessment and mitigation
  • Integrated cross-well electromagnetic and seismic systems to reduce uncertainty in monitoring the evolution of injected CO2 plumes by simultaneously accounting for plume boundaries and internal saturation
  • Deployed high-sensitivity, wide-bandwidth, borehole optical sensors to ensure unprecedented sensitivity to microseismicity, providing early fault identification, improved understanding of faulting mechanisms, and better input to protocols for responding to induced seismicity
  • Used the EGS Collab project as a platform to co-deploy many techniques to monitor stimulation and flow, offering multiple views of the same environment and (fracturing) changes

Relevant Projects


EESA benefits from rich partnerships with our collaborators and sponsors. See project & program links above for more information.

Publication Highlights

Analysis of signal to noise and directivity characteristics of DAS VSP at near and far offsets — A CO2CRC Otway Project data example. The Leading Edge, 2017

3D vertical seismic profile acquired with distributed acoustic sensing on tubing installation: A case study from the CO2CRC Otway Project. Interpretation, 2019 

Active surface and borehole seismic monitoring of a small supercritical CO2 injection into the subsurface: experience from the CO2CRC Otway Project. Active Geophysical Monitoring, 2020 

In-situ measurement of velocity-stress sensitivity using cross-well Continuous Active-Source Seismic Monitoring. Geophysics, 2017 

Joint Use of Crosswell EM and Seismic for Monitoring CO2 Storage at the Containment and Monitoring Institute Field Site (CaMI): Baseline Surveys and Preliminary Results. SEG Technical Program Expanded Abstracts, 2020

EGS Collab Project: Status and Progress. 44th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University, 2019 

EGS Collab Project Electrical Resistivity Tomography Characterization and Monitoring Status. 44th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University, 2019 

Microseismic Signatures of Hydraulic Fracturing: A Preliminary Interpretation of Intermediate-Scale Data from the EGS Collab Experiment. 44th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University, 2019 

Microseismic monitoring of meso-scale stimulations for the DOE EGS Collab project at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. 44th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University, 2019 

Lessons learned from passive seismic monitoring of EGS Collab Experiment 1. 45th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University, 2020

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