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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Yang, W., Chen, G. Y., Meng, L. Y., Zang, Y., Zhang, H. J., and Li, J. L. (2021). Determination of the local magnitudes of small earthquakes using a dense seismic array in the Changning−Zhaotong Shale Gas Field, Southern Sichuan Basin. Earth Planet. Phys., 5(6), 532–546.

2021, 5(6): 532-546. doi: 10.26464/epp2021026


Determination of the local magnitudes of small earthquakes using a dense seismic array in the Changning−Zhaotong Shale Gas Field, Southern Sichuan Basin


Laboratory of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior, School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China


National Geophysical Observatory at Mengcheng, University of Science and Technology of China, Mengcheng Anhui 233500, China


China Earthquake Networks Center, Beijing 100045, China

Corresponding author: JunLun Li,

Received Date: 2021-01-02
Web Publishing Date: 2021-04-21

With the development of unconventional shale gas in the southern Sichuan Basin, seismicity in the region has increased significantly in recent years. Though the existing sparse regional seismic stations can capture most earthquakes with $ {M}_{\mathrm{L}}\ge 2.5 $, a great number of smaller earthquakes are often omitted due to limited detection capacity. With the advent of portable seismic nodes, many dense arrays for monitoring seismicity in the unconventional oil and gas fields have been deployed, and the magnitudes of those earthquakes are key to understand the local fault reactivation and seismic potentials. However, the current national standard for determining the local magnitudes was not specifically designed for monitoring stations in close proximity, utilizing a calibration function with a minimal resolution of 5 km in the epicentral distance. That is, the current national standard tends to overestimate the local magnitudes for stations within short epicentral distances, and can result in discrepancies for dense arrays. In this study, we propose a new local magnitude formula which corrects the overestimated magnitudes for shorter distances, yielding accurate event magnitudes for small earthquakes in the Changning−Zhaotong shale gas field in the southern Sichuan Basin, monitored by dense seismic arrays in close proximity. The formula is used to determine the local magnitudes of 7,500 events monitored by a two-phased dense array with several hundred 5 Hz 3C nodes deployed from the end of February 2019 to early May 2019 in the Changning−Zhaotong shale gas field. The magnitude of completeness ($ {M}_{\mathrm{C}} $) using the dense array is −0.1, compared to $ {M}_{\mathrm{C}} $ 1.1 by the sparser Chinese Seismic Network (CSN). In addition, using a machine learning detection and picking procedure, we successfully identify and process some 14,000 earthquakes from the continuous waveforms, a ten-fold increase over the catalog recorded by CSN for the same period, and the $ {M}_{\mathrm{C}} $ is further reduced to −0.3 from −0.1 compared to the catalog obtained via manual processing using the same dense array. The proposed local magnitude formula can be adopted for calculating accurate local magnitudes of future earthquakes using dense arrays in the shale gas fields of the Sichuan Basin. This will help to better characterize the local seismic risks and potentials.

Key words: shale gas development, local magnitude, microearthquakes, dense seismic array, machine learning

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Determination of the local magnitudes of small earthquakes using a dense seismic array in the Changning−Zhaotong Shale Gas Field, Southern Sichuan Basin

Wen Yang, GuoYi Chen, LingYuan Meng, Yang Zang, HaiJiang Zhang, JunLun Li