Mar 11, 2021

Scientists use 3D-printed rocks, machine learning to detect unexpected earthquakes

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Geoscientists at Sandia National Laboratories used 3D-printed rocks and an advanced, large-scale computer model of past earthquakes to understand and prevent earthquakes triggered by energy exploration.

Injecting water underground after unconventional oil and gas extraction, commonly known as fracking, geothermal energy stimulation and carbon dioxide sequestration all can trigger earthquakes. Of course, energy companies do their due diligence to check for faults—breaks in the earth’s upper crust that are prone to earthquakes—but sometimes earthquakes, even swarms of earthquakes, strike unexpectedly.

Sandia geoscientists studied how pressure and from injecting water can transfer through pores in rocks down to fault lines, including previously hidden ones. They also crushed rocks with specially engineered weak points to hear the sound of different types of fault failures, which will aid in early detection of an induced .

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