Manipulating the Earth’s crust under extreme stress conditions can lead to man-made earthquakes, NUST MISIS scientist claims

Earthquakes can be caused not only by natural factors; some strong ground movements in industrial zones have a mixed nature, such as natural-technogenic or technogenic-tectonic. The trigger for these can be engineering interventions in the subsurface. A scientist from NUST MISIS highlighted the need to study geodynamic effects related to the extreme stress state of the Earth’s subsurface in areas where mining activities are conducted.

Analyzing the structure of the Earth’s crust in places with engineering interventions can help minimize the risks of man-made earthquakes. Studying such phenomena is essential for developing effective strategies and measures to reduce risks and ensure the safety of the population. Land subsidence, surface deformation and gas emissions can impact infrastructure and lead to damage to buildings, roads, pipelines, and harm the environment.

“One of the ideas underlying the geodynamic zoning method is the hypothesis of the existence of a layer of extreme stress state in the Earth’s crust. Its study is necessary to reveal the nature of the interaction between global geodynamic and local geomechanical processes in areas of mineral extraction,” Andrian Batugin, the author of the research, D.Sci. (Engin.), Professor of the NUST MISIS Department of Mining Safety and Ecology.

To understand the nature of man-made earthquakes, the MISIS University scientist is studying geodynamic effects related to the extreme stress state of the Earth’s subsurface, including the migration of gases from the subsurface to the block structure of the rock mass. Using examples of strong earthquakes in industrial areas such as Bachatskoye, Neftyanoye, Nepalskoye and Venchyuanskoye, the researcher explains how such deep-seated phenomena could be caused by man-made interventions such as mining, oil extraction, large-scale pumping of underground water, the construction of reservoirs and so on. Details of the study are described in the scientific journal Mining Industry.

“Understanding the relationship between global geodynamic and local geomechanical processes is crucial for mining activities and resource exploitation. Research needs to be conducted comprehensively, utilizing advancements in geodynamic monitoring, computer and geomechanical modeling, as well as theoretical and experimental studies,” Andrian Batugin.

This work is supported by the grant of the Russian Science Foundation No. 22-27-00728.