A Fiber-Optic Borehole Seismic Vector and Acoustic Sensor System for Geothermal Site Characterization and Monitoring

Authors: Björn PAULSSON, Jon THORNBURG, Ruiqing HE
Keywords: high-temperature, fiber-optic, long-array, borehole-seismic, vector-sensor, acoustic-sensors
Conference: World Geothermal Congress Session: Geophysics
Year: 2015 Language: English
Abstract: Seismic techniques are the dominant geophysical techniques for the characterization of subsurface structures and stratigraphy. The seismic techniques also dominate the monitoring and mapping of reservoir injection and production processes. Borehole seismology, of all the seismic techniques, despite its current shortcomings, has been shown to provide the highest resolution characterization and most precise monitoring results because it generates higher signal to noise ratio and higher frequency data than surface seismic techniques. The operational environments for borehole seismic instruments are however much more demanding than for surface seismic instruments making both the instruments and the installation much more expensive. The current state-of-the-art borehole seismic instruments have not been robust enough for long term monitoring compounding the problems with expensive instruments and installations. Furthermore, they have also not been able to record the large bandwidth data available in boreholes or having the sensitivity allowing them to record small micro seismic events with high vector fidelity. To reliably achieve high resolution characterization and long term monitoring of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) sites a new generation of borehole seismic instruments must therefore be developed and deployed. To address the critical site characterization and monitoring needs for EGS programs, US Department of Energy (DOE) funded Paulsson, Inc. in 2010 to develop a fiber optic based ultra-large bandwidth clamped borehole seismic vector array capable of deploying up to one thousand 3C sensor pods suitable for deployment into ultra-high temperature and high pressure boreholes. Tests of the new vector sensors have shown that the developed borehole fiber optic seismic sensor technology is capable of generating outstanding high vector fidelity data with extremely large bandwidth: 0.01 – 6,000 Hz. Field tests have shown that the system can record events at magnitudes much smaller than M-2.6 at frequencies up to 2,000 Hz. The sensors have also proved to be about 100 times more sensitive than regular coil geophones used in borehole seismic systems today. The fiber optic seismic sensors have furthermore been qualified to operate at temperatures over 300°C (572°F). Simultaneously with the fiber optic based seismic 3C vector sensors we are using the lead in fiber to acquire Distributed Acoustic Sensor (DAS) data from the surface to the bottom the array. While the DAS data is of much lower quality than the vector sensor data it provides a 1 m spatial sampling of the downgoing wavefield which will be used to build the high resolution velocity model which is an essential component in high resolution imaging and monitoring.
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