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The Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG) at Caltech is conducting research to advance the understanding of how geomaterials fail, in particular in the presence of fluids. GMG will contribute to more efficient, reliable and safe methods for energy production, CO2 and gas storage. GMG will develop physics-based methods to mitigate the hazard associated with such activities, as well as with natural earthquakes and landslides. The Center members who will constitute the Industry Advisory Board (IAB) include oil and gas companies, engineering companies in the areas of geomechanics and geohazard mitigation, and utilities operators concerned with the exposure of distributed infrastructure to earthquake and landslide hazard. More than fifteen Caltech professorial faculty are participating in the Center, covering all the relevant disciplines - geophysics, geology, mechanical and civil engineering, and information sciences.  

Mission Statement

To advance the understanding of geomaterials failure in the presence of fluids for industry applications and geohazard mitigation, by leveraging the cutting-edge modeling, computing, experimental, geophysical and remote-sensing research at Caltech

Current Projects

GMG-1.1 - Infrastructure system resiliency via InSAR ground deformation monitoring

Experimental plan:
-- Identify ground deformation (landslides, settlement) in Los Angeles affecting the risk of water infrastructure.
-- Develop automated process of deformation map retrieval using interferometric data and image correlation.
-- Compare with ground-based measurements from state-of-practice site surveying of said features.

GMG-2.1 - Seismicity due to hydraulic stimulation for geothermal energy production.

Experimental plan:
- WP1: Develop a code to model thermo-poro-elastic stress variations and deformation due to fluid injection. (Y1)
- WP2:Use Observations from Brawley to test/calibrate the model and analyze the relation to seismicity (Y1)

GMG-3.1 - Relating ground subsidence, seismicity and reservoir operations at Groningen

Experimental plan:
- WP1: Enhanced seismicity seismicity catalog with AI methods for phase detection, association, & EQs location
- WP2:Use production data to estimate pore pressure, assimilating surface subsidence information. Test effect of heterogeneities of elastic properties.

GMG-4.1 - Understanding conditions for stable/unstable fault slip induced by fluid injections

Experimental plan:
- Use the existing codes to model a field experiment on fluid injection.
- Develop codes for coupling between evolving compaction/dilation of the fault gouge and fluid flow.

GMG-5.1 - Modeling and simulation of hydraulic fracturing processes, microseismicity, and environmental impact

Experimental plan:
- Further validate MMHF against imaging experiments..
- Apply MMHF to estimate fracking performance in the desired settings.
- Apply MMHF to estimate fracking fluid leak off to nearby groundwater formations.

GMG-6.1 - Experimental investigation of the interaction between fluids and failure of rock faults in shear

Experimental plan:
- Conduct controlled and highly instrumented laboratory experiments with fluid injection into a pre-existing fault to study evolution in friction/pore pressure and triggering of fast/slow slip under various conditions
- Measure slip, slip rate, and shear stress evolution along the fault during the injection process.
- Compare measurements with existing theories on the stability of fault slip.

GMG-7.1 & 8.1 - Microseismic Monitoring with Deep Learning

Experimental plan:
- Adapt the method for vertical only data. Apply to SAF and SBB arrays, and the geothermal data.

GMG-9.1 - Application of DAS in monitoring microseismicity and subsurface structure changes

Experimental plan:
- Use the DAS instrument contributed by OptaSense through GMG to collect data in the Pasadena area.
- Analyze the DAS data and develop new methods in microseismicity detection, and structure monitoring.
- Optimize the data collection and processing procedures to improve the monitoring accuracy and efficiency.

  • Aramco Services Company
  • BetaZi LLC
  • Chevron USA Inc., Chevron Energy Technology Company
  • ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
  • Optasense
  • Shell Global Solutions International B. V.
  • ST1 Deep Heat Oy
  • Total E&P Research & Technology USA, LLC

Fall Meeting

December 3 - 5, 2019

Internship Opportunity with Aramco

Email for more information

Seminar and Workshop with Chris Marone

Professor, Department of Geosciences Pennsylvania State University

GPS Division Seminar Oct. 21, 2019
"The Mechanics of Slow Earthquakes and Lab Earthquake Prediction"

GPS Workshop Oct. 22, 2019
"From rock mechanics to dynamic modeling of fault slip"

Past Meetings