Sharp increase in central Oklahoma seismicity 2009-2014 induced by massive wastewater injection

Science
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Abstract

Unconventional oil and gas production provides a rapidly growing energy source; however high-producing states in the United States, such as Oklahoma, face sharply rising numbers of earthquakes. Subsurface pressure data required to unequivocally link earthquakes to injection are rarely accessible. Here we use seismicity and hydrogeological models to show that distant fluid migration from high-rate disposal wells in Oklahoma is likely responsible for the largest swarm. Earthquake hypocenters occur within disposal formations and upper-basement, between 2-5 km depth. The modeled fluid pressure perturbation propagates throughout the same depth range and tracks earthquakes to distances of 35 km, with a triggering threshold of ~0.07 MPa. Although thousands of disposal wells may operate aseismically, four of the highest-rate wells likely induced 20% of 2008-2013 central US seismicity.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sharp increase in central Oklahoma seismicity 2009-2014 induced by massive wastewater injection
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.1255802
Volume 345
Issue 6195
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Publisher location New York, NY
Contributing office(s) John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis, National Research Program - Western Branch
Description 4 p.
First page 448
Last page 451
Country United States
State Oklahoma
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N