Joint research project

Investigation of dam-induced seismic effects and seismic hazard assessment in Mingechevir area (Azerbaijan)

Project leaders
Luciano Telesca, Fakhraddin Kadirov
AZERBAIJAN - ANAS - Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
CNR/ANAS biennio 2018-2019 2018-2019
Earth system science and environmental technologies
Thematic area
Earth system science and environmental technologies
Status of the project

Research proposal

The Mingechevir reservoir is the largest water reservoir in northwestern Azerbaijan and in the whole Caucasus. Built on a section of Kur River in 1953, it is 83 m high with a volume of 15.73 km³. The dam hosts, moreover, the largest hydroelectric power station of Azerbaijan, representing, thus, a facility that is very crucial for the economic development of the whole country. The territory around the Mingechevir reservoir is a part of the Kur lowland and has a complicated geological structure, where the Neogene and Quaternary sediments represent the main geological ages of the region. The lithological composition of the area is characterized by sandy and clayey sediments of Absheron age, while the covering Quaternary deposits are mainly composed of ancient landslide formations (colluvium, beach, eluvium-deluvium and technogenic). From the tectonic point of view on the background of Bozdag anticline folding, the secondary folding processes due to trusting, faulting and vertical displacements can be observed. Besides, the region of Mingechevir water reservoir is under the impact of horizontal deformation processes of the earth`s crust due to the Arabia-Eurasia collision. The study area belongs to the Kur seismic zone and up to 12 events with intensity 6 and 7 in last 100 years have been recorded, this making such area very prone to be struck by strong earthquakes.
Within this complex geologic and seismo-tectonic context, the present project will perform the following activities never performed so far: 1) a deep investigation of the seismic triggered effects of the water reservoir, and 2) an assessment of the seismic hazard of the whole area around Mingechevir dam.
Concerning the activity 1), in this project advanced statistical methods will be applied to study seismic source processes and space-time clustering in Mingechevir area. Since the seismic activity could be related to the activity of the Kur fault system, but also to the reservoir's operations that possibly can trigger earthquakes, the present project will attain an as much as possible exhaustive comprehension of the seismogenic processes induced by the dam as well as tectonic due to interactions among the faults of the Kur system. Therefore, spatial and temporal pattern of seismicity, stress field and modeling of the pore pressure diffusion due to seasonal variations of the water level in Mingechevir dam will be investigated.
Concerning the activity 2), in this project it is expected to compile a PGA-based seismic hazard map for the Mingechevir water reservoir area with the use of the empirical approach. Empirical technique which is rather deterministic approach in seismic hazard assessment technique is intended to involve the studying macroseismic data of the target earthquakes (scenario earthquakes), then calculating amplification factor, drawing numerical models of Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) with the MSK-64 seismic intensity. In this approach, seismicity, tectonics, geology, soil and rock properties of the area will be incorporated and studied. By using the contemporary data about seismicity and geodynamics, it is, then, intended to develop new estimations about long-term seismic hazards for the Mingechevir area. The database of earthquake catalogue will be compiled from accessible regional catalogues. Maps of seismic hazards, which are planned to plot within the framework of this project, will be valuable from the viewpoint of hazard assessment for inhabitants, industrial constructions and transportation infrastructure.
The results of the project will have important societal impact: the deep understanding of the seismogenic processes due to both tectonic and reservoir-triggered effects at Mingechevir is crucial not only for developing more accurate seismic hazard assessment and risk mitigation in the area, but also for civil protection actions to be directed towards risk reduction interventions. Furthermore, the result of the project can be used not only in the hydro-technical constructions, but also for other civil and industrial constructions, in the process of engineering geological exploration and mineral extraction. The estimate of expected losses enables to plan in advance effectively costs needed to restore the life condition, the disaster and to estimate the sources to be used to minimize its effects, the implementation of the security measures within Mingechevir water area. This project will have also a great scientific impact on better understanding of seismo-tectonic characteristics of Mingechevir area:in order to study natural and reservoir-related processes associated with earthquake triggering, earthquake clustering and earthquake migration in the investigated area, the project will clarify the links among different physical, mechanical and geological parameters of the triggering processes with size and location of earthquakes, and study the correlations between the water level fluctuations and seismicity, never investigated so far for this particular area.
The results will be disseminated through reports, international conferences and ISI papers, and on appropriate website to share the results with the scientific community. This project entails a joint research effort among experts from the two teams: the Azerbaijani team has an outstanding experience in geology and geophysics supported by frequent field surveys in the investigated area; furthermore they have acquired a great experience in seismic hazard and risk assessment. The Italian team complements with a great experience in reservoir-triggered seismicity, along with a longstanding knowledge of advanced nonlinear seismic time series tools that are necessary to perform the activities described above. The outcomes of this project (papers, knowledge transfer, staff mobility, exchange of methods and human resources) will reinforce the Azerbaijani-Italian cooperation that has been developed in the last years in the context of seismic analysis.

Research goals

The objective of the projects are: 1) To investigate the space-time dynamics of the Mingechevir seismicity; 2) To investigate the relationship between the dam water level and seismicity at Mingechevir; 3) To investigate and understand the processes involved in the reservoir-triggered seismicity; 4) To develop a hydromechanical model for the Mingechevir area and to estimate its hydraulic diffusivity from the space-time evolution of reservoir-triggered events; 5) To provide an assessment of the seismic hazard of the Mingechevir area on the basis of the results obtained through the analysis of the seismic and geological parameters of the area; 6) To foster young researchers and PhD students of both institutions in the reservoir-triggered seismicity research; 7) To disseminate preliminary and final results of the project in international conferences, publications, and in a project-oriented internet website.

Last update: 27/11/2021