Very small, not perceptible earthquakes are an inherent part of deep geothermal projects. They cause fractures and keep them open, both enhancing the permeability of a reservoir necessary for an efficient operation. The aim of every geothermal project is to enhance the permeability without causing any felt or damaging earthquakes.
At the “Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies”, very small earthquakes are as well expected. Compared to natural, damaging earthquakes, the size of the volume stimulated and the depth of the rock volume are considerably smaller. Therefore, the risk of provoking perceptible or even damaging earthquakes is extremely low. A dense monitoring system allows us to observe even smallest seismic activity. In case predefined magnitude thresholds are exceeded, the procedures will immediately be adapted and, if needed, stopped. Our aim is to study how we can prevent felt or damaging earthquakes and not to provoke any at the “Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies”.
For the environment, there are no potential risks, as no chemicals will be injected in the rock nor will any other harmful substances being used.
A rock laboratory including the handling of different instruments naturally offers a less safe working environment than a regular office. Therefore, different measures are taken to protect the technicians and researchers working at the “Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geoenergies”. Besides instructions to wear protective clothing, operational procedures are predefined and monitored.
For each experiment, a detailed and rigorous risk study will be produced specifying the saftey measures to be obeyed.