A geospatial model for the analysis of time-dependent land subsidence induced by reservoir depletion

José J. Lizárraga, Giuseppe Buscarnera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Land subsidence due to fluid depletion is an outcome of physical processes operating across a wide range of time and length scales. Although geomechanical models are crucial to simulate reservoir compaction and predict its long-term fate, their use across large regions often bears prohibitive computational costs. To overcome this obstacle, this paper proposes a simplified modelling framework consisting of (i) a near-field numerical solver simulating the coupling between fluid flow and rock deformation with reference to a simplified one-dimensional geometry and (ii) a far-field geospatial algorithm mapping ground settlements across a region through the superposition of poroelastic computations at multiple wells. The model computes the delay between depletion history and reservoir compaction in proximity of a producing well by assuming basal depletion of a fluid-saturated deformable disk, while the Geertsma solution of nucleus of strain is used to extrapolate the impact of such time-varying reservoir compaction around the well. This approach has been used to back-analyze the spatio-temporal progression of subsidence at the Groningen gas field. The results are compared against measurements collected over 50 year of production at 25 benchmark locations scattered over an area of 900 km2. It is shown that coupled simulations based on average values of rock compressibility and permeability lead to nonlinear trends of subsidence evolution in good agreement with field measurements, while uncoupled analyses overpredict settlements by more than 70%. Lastly, synthetic forecasts based on different rates of depletion were provided. The results suggest that slower depletion rates lead to lower subsidence at a given time, and that residual subsidence may continue to develop for several decades after interruption of production activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104272
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Compaction
  • Depletion
  • Hydro-mechanical coupling
  • Poroelasticity
  • Subsidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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