High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity

Science
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Abstract

An unprecedented increase in earthquakes in the U.S. mid-continent began in 2009. Many of these earthquakes have been documented as induced by wastewater injection. We examine the relationship between wastewater injection and U.S. mid-continent seismicity using a newly assembled injection well database for the central and eastern United States. We find that the entire increase in earthquake rate is associated with fluid injection wells. High-rate injection wells (>300,000 barrels per month) are much more likely to be associated with earthquakes than lower-rate wells. At the scale of our study, a well’s cumulative injected volume, monthly wellhead pressure, depth, and proximity to crystalline basement do not strongly correlate with earthquake association. Managing injection rates may be a useful tool to minimize the likelihood of induced earthquakes.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.aab1345
Volume 348
Issue 6241
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher AAAS
Contributing office(s) John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis, Office of the AD Hazards
Description 5 p.
First page 1336
Last page 340
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N