Oklahoma experiences largest earthquake during ongoing regional wastewater injection hazard mitigation efforts

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

The 3 September 2016, Mw 5.8 Pawnee earthquake was the largest recorded earthquake in the state of Oklahoma. Seismic and geodetic observations of the Pawnee sequence, including precise hypocenter locations and moment tensor modeling, shows that the Pawnee earthquake occurred on a previously unknown left-lateral strike-slip basement fault that intersects the mapped right-lateral Labette fault zone. The Pawnee earthquake is part of an unprecedented increase in the earthquake rate in Oklahoma that is largely considered the result of the deep injection of waste fluids from oil and gas production. If this is, indeed, the case for the M5.8 Pawnee earthquake, then this would be the largest event to have been induced by fluid injection. Since 2015, Oklahoma has undergone wide-scale mitigation efforts primarily aimed at reducing injection volumes. Thus far in 2016, the rate of M3 and greater earthquakes has decreased as compared to 2015, while the cumulative moment—or energy released from earthquakes—has increased. This highlights the difficulty in earthquake hazard mitigation efforts given the poorly understood long-term diffusive effects of wastewater injection and their connection to seismicity.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Oklahoma experiences largest earthquake during ongoing regional wastewater injection hazard mitigation efforts
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2016GL071685
Volume 44
Issue 2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 711
Last page 717
Country United States
State Oklahoma
City Pawnee