US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 87, NO. B8, PAGES 6959-6974, AUGUST 10, 1982


In two ~1.1-km-deep wells, the magnitudes of the principal in situ stresses, pore pressure, permeability, and the distribution of faults, fractures, and joints were measured directly in the hypocentral zones of earthquakes induced by impoundment of Monticello Reservoir, South Carolina. Analysis of these data suggests that the earthquakes were caused by an increase in subsurface pore pressure sufficiently large to trigger reverse-type fault motion on preexisting fault planes in a zone of relatively large shear stresses near the surface. The measurements indicated (1) near-critical stress differences for reverse-type fault motion at depths less than 200-300 m, (2) possibly increased pore pressure at depth relative to preimpoundment conditions, (3) the existence of fault planes in situ with orientations similar to those determined from composite focal plane mechanisms, and (4) in situ hydraulic diffusivities that agree well with the size of the seismically active area and time over which fluid flow would be expected to migrate into the zone of seismicity. Our physical model of the seismicity suggests that infrequent future earthquakes will occur at Monticello Reservoir as a result of eventual pore fluid diffusion into isolated zones of low permeability. Future seismic activity at Monticello Reservoir is expected to be limited in magnitude by the small dimensions of the seismogenic zones.