Matt Weingarten


Physics-based forecasting of man-made earthquake hazards in Oklahoma and Kansas

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Reinjection of saltwater, co-produced with oil, triggered thousands of widely felt and several damaging earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas. The future seismic hazard remains uncertain. Here, we present a new methodology to forecast the probability of damaging induced earthquakes in space and time. In our hybrid physical–statistical model, seismicity is driven by the rate of injection-induced pressure increases at any given location and spatial variations in the number and stress state of preexisting basement faults affected by the pressure increase. If current injection practices continue, earthquake hazards are expected to decrease slowly. Approximately 190, 130 and 100 widely felt M ≥ 3 earthquakes are anticipated in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, with corresponding probabilities of potentially damaging M ≥ 5 earthquakes of 32, 24 and 19%. We identify areas where produced-water injection is more likely to cause seismicity. Our methodology can be used to evaluate future injection scenarios intended to mitigate seismic hazards.

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