Potentially induced earthquakes during the early twentieth century in the Los Angeles Basin

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
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Abstract

Recent studies have presented evidence that early to mid‐twentieth‐century earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas were likely induced by fossil fuel production and/or injection of wastewater (Hough and Page, 2015; Frohlich et al., 2016). Considering seismicity from 1935 onward, Hauksson et al. (2015) concluded that there is no evidence for significant induced activity in the greater Los Angeles region between 1935 and the present. To explore a possible association between earthquakes prior to 1935 and oil and gas production, we first revisit the historical catalog and then review contemporary oil industry activities. Although early industry activities did not induce large numbers of earthquakes, we present evidence for an association between the initial oil boom in the greater Los Angeles area and earthquakes between 1915 and 1932, including the damaging 22 June 1920 Inglewood and 8 July 1929 Whittier earthquakes. We further consider whether the 1933 Mw 6.4 Long Beach earthquake might have been induced, and show some evidence that points to a causative relationship between the earthquake and activities in the Huntington Beach oil field. The hypothesis that the Long Beach earthquake was either induced or triggered by an foreshock cannot be ruled out. Our results suggest that significant earthquakes in southern California during the early twentieth century might have been associated with industry practices that are no longer employed (i.e., production without water reinjection), and do not necessarily imply a high likelihood of induced earthquakes at the present time.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Potentially induced earthquakes during the early twentieth century in the Los Angeles Basin
Series title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
DOI 10.1785/0120160157
Volume 106
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Seismological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 2419
Last page 2435
Country United States
State California
City Los Angeles
Other Geospatial Los Angeles Basin