Comparison between distributed acoustic sensing and geophones: Downhole microseismic monitoring of the FORGE geothermal experiment

Ariel Lellouch, Nathaniel J. Lindsey, William L. Ellsworth, Biondo L. Biondi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compare the performance of a downhole distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) fiberoptic array with that of conventional geophones. The downhole collocated arrays are part of the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) geothermal experiment, in which stimulation of the rock volume in an enhanced geothermal system (EGS) causes microseismic events. The DAS acquisition system yields data sampled at every 1 m at 2000 samples per second for the entire length of the well, spanning to a depth of 985 m from the surface. Whereas single DAS channels are substantially noisier than geophones at the same location, their large number and spatial coherency allow for the application of effective array processing techniques. We follow a complete workflow for the fiber-optic array: velocity model building, event detection, event location, and magnitude estimation. Estimated velocity models agree well with sonic logging in a nearby well and map a granitic contact accurately. Detection performance is somewhat worse than geophones and yields magnitude completeness of -1.4 compared to -1.7 for geophones. Using a single vertical fiber array, we cannot retrieve the azimuth of the events relative to the well. However, we can very accurately estimate their depth and horizontal distance from the array. Magnitude estimation with DAS approaches geophone results to within a standard deviation of M = 0.115 and negligible mean difference. The DAS processing results outperform a regional and local surface array, consolidated with a shallow borehole sensor. Although downhole geophones in the FORGE experimental layout performed better, DAS holds several critical practical benefits that were not demonstrated. Thanks to its heat resistance, it can be deployed much closer to the reservoir; fibers can be deployed along cased active wells, eliminating the need for a dedicated monitoring well; the permanently installed fiber can be used for years or decades. Therefore, we argue that DAS holds vast potential for long-term monitoring of EGS projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3256-3268
Number of pages13
JournalSeismological Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics


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