Induced earthquakes in the South-Central United States

Robert Skoumal

USGS Earthquake Science Center

Date & Time
Building 3, Rambo Auditorium

Over the past decade, the seismicity rate in the Central United States has increased by more than an order of magnitude. The vast majority of these earthquakes has been induced by oil and gas operations, principally wastewater disposal, hydraulic fracturing, and hydrocarbon production. As many of these induced earthquakes have occurred in regions that historically had little to no documented seismicity, these induced earthquakes have dramatically altered the seismic hazard; recent seismic hazard assessments for Oklahoma are comparable to those estimated for California and New Madrid. This presentation will focus on the evolution of induced seismicity in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. With the large number of induced earthquakes, we have a unique opportunity to learn about earthquake processes and characterize the subsurface in areas using methods that were previously not feasible. Through advancements in our abilities to identify seismogenic faults, estimate the state of stress, and determining the geologic/industrial parameters that control the occurrence of induced earthquakes, we hope to gain a better understanding of the induced earthquakes and mitigate future hazard.

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