Investigations of Potential Induced Seismicity Related to Geologic Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in California

This project addresses public concern about the unknown but potential risk of induced seismicity.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Berkeley, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

In Phase I, LBNL assembled publically available data and carried out some preliminary analyses to form the basis for Phase II activities. These analyses included oil field production and injection data, existing reservoir pools where injection has elevated pressure levels, and correlation of injection in southern California with seismicity. Based on the recommendations of the Project Advisory Committee, Phase II includes three studies at King Island that build on previous work: experiments on the seal properties of the cap rock, a coupled flow/geomechanics model of pressure, and a simulation-based seismic risk analysis.

The Issue

The Scoping Plan for the Global Warming Solution Act of 2006 (AB 32) specifically identifies the combustion of natural gas as a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within California and identifies geologic carbon sequestration as a strategy which holds significant potential to reduce these GHG emissions. To effectively geologically sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), the captured CO2 gas is compressed, transported and injected into an underground storage facility at a significant depth. A well known risk of injecting and storing fluids underground, however, is the potential to induce seismic activity.

Project Innovation

The project
1. Identified and assessed sources of data and background information on seismic events associated with oil and gas injection and production, especially in areas where fault activity may result in leakage, to improve our understanding of existing pressures and seismic responses to increased or decreased pore pressures.

2. Collected and assessed sources of core samples of relevant caprock to measure their fracture-related flow properties such as porosity, permeability, relative permeability, and capillary pressure to understand how these formations in California will respond to increased pressures from sequestration activities.

3. Evaluated information from well borings and other measurements that are available to better define the state of stress at specific sites.

Project Benefits

This research advanced our understanding of the potential for and the severity of induced seismicity from geologic carbon sequestration, potentially one of the major barriers to commercial application of this greenhouse gas mitigation strategy.

Increase Safety


There is a need for research to improve our understanding of the potential and severity of induced seismicity from geologic carbon sequestration.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Rick Inada

contract manager

Contact the Team