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DOE Releases Toolkit to Assess Induced Seismicity at CO2 Storage Sites

A forecasting toolkit developed jointly by a pair of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiatives and funded, in part, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help operators of underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage sites assess the likelihood and magnitude of seismic activity that could arise from commercial-scale injection.

Carbon capture and storage is an important greenhouse gas emissions management approach to collect and transport carbon dioxide (CO2) for safe and permanent storage in deep underground geologic formations. While geologic storage of CO2 has been shown to be safe and effective, concerns remain about the potential to induce new seismic activity as a result of large-scale injection operations. While the vast majority of measured seismic activity from commercial-scale carbon storage operations is too small in magnitude to be felt at the surface and results in no impact, it is important to address stakeholder concerns about the potential to induce larger-magnitude seismic activity.

Effectively forecasting potential CO2-injection induced seismicity requires a robust understanding of the underlying physical processes, an ability to develop and apply physics-informed and data-driven modeling approaches, and the vision to bring these together in a framework that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders. That’s where the new toolkit, called the Operational FoRecastIng Of INduced Seismicity toolkit (ORION) comes in.

ORION is an open-source, observation-based toolkit designed to forecast how potential induced seismic hazard (i.e., probabilistic assessment of the magnitude and frequency of induced seismic events) may evolve in response to CO2 injection. The toolkit incorporates details on proposed injection operations and information on the seismic history at the site to forecast magnitude and frequency of potential induced seismic activity over time. This information can then be used by inform operational decisions and foster communication between stakeholders. ORION can also be used to explore the effectiveness of proposed mitigation strategies that aim to reduce the frequency and/or magnitude of potential induced seismic activity.

Users can access the ORION toolkit and supporting documentation through the Energy Data eXchange (EDX) at ORION: Operational FoRecastIng Of INduced Seismicity - Submissions - EDX (

ORION was developed jointly through two DOE Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management-sponsored initiatives: the National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP) and the Science-informed Machine Learning to Accelerate Real-Time (SMART) Decisions in Subsurface Applications Initiative. These two projects are led by NETL researchers; the ORION tool was principally developed by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with contribution from researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.