EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A sensitivity analysis of stress changes related to geothermal direct heat production in clastic reservoirs and potential for fault reactivation and seismicity

Arjan Marelis1,2, Jan-Diederik van Wees1,2, and Fred Beekman1
Arjan Marelis et al.
  • 1Utrecht University, Earth Sciences, Utrecht, Netherlands (
  • 2TNO, Energy Division, Utrecht, Netherlands (

Keywords: geothermal, high resolution, fault stability, induced seismicity.

High resolution predictions of three-dimensional subsurface stress changes are required for the assessment of geothermal operations with respect to fault stability and the potential risk for induced seismicity. The effects of long-term cooling on reactivation and seismicity potential of faults near a geothermal doublet require quantification and management for safe and effective application of geothermal energy. This work presents a detailed analysis of the sensitivity for fault reactivation and induced seismicity based on different scenarios for reservoir characteristics and production parameters. To this end, analytical solutions are used as well as a TNO-proprietary tool known as MACRIS (Mechanical Analysis of Complex Reservoir for Induced Seismicity) (Van Wees et al., 2019) that allows for both poro- and thermo-elastic stress evaluations in structurally complex (i.e. highly faulted) reservoirs. The stress evaluations take as input the pressure and thermal field of the reservoir and over- and underburden which are obtained from the Open Porous Media (OPM) Flow reservoir simulator (Rasmussen et al., 2021). In this workflow, high resolution stress change solutions at the faults are available.

The workflow has been applied to a high resolution three-dimensional reservoir model, including over- and underburden rock, marked by a single fault. Key elements in the dynamic and mechanical behaviour of the reservoir are varied, along with different production scenarios. Simulated stress evolutions in MACRIS and alternative analytical solutions show a predominant sensitivity for fault reactivation to the thermo-elastic parameters, i.e. the Young’s modulus and thermal expansion coefficient. Furthermore, in cooling reservoirs, the intersection area of the cold-water volume in direct contact with the fault plane is shown to be the main driver for fault reactivation and subsequent seismic potential.



Rasmussen, A.F., Sandve, T.H., Bao, K., Lauser, A., Hove, J., Skaflestad, B., … and Thune, A. (2021). The Open Porous Media Flow reservoir simulator, Computers and Mathematics with Applications, 81, 159-185.

Van Wees, J.D., Pluymaekers, M., Osinga, S., Fokker, P. A., van Thienen-Visser, K., Orlic, B., Wassing, B. B. T., Hegen, D., and Candela, T. (2019). 3-D mechanical analysis of complex reservoirs: a novel mesh-free approach, Geophysical Journal International, 219 (2), 1118-1130.


How to cite: Marelis, A., van Wees, J.-D., and Beekman, F.: A sensitivity analysis of stress changes related to geothermal direct heat production in clastic reservoirs and potential for fault reactivation and seismicity, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14219,, 2023.