Whole Lotta Shakin’: Man-Made Earthquakes and Energy Development

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 230B (San Jose Convention Center)
Recent increases in earthquake activity in the midcontinent of North America, along with seismic activity associated with geothermal energy, have led to public concern about earthquakes caused by human activities. Hydraulic fracturing has been directly linked to only a few felt earthquakes. However, substantial evidence indicates that geothermal development, wastewater injection, and other activities can lead to earthquakes -- generally referred to as “triggered earthquakes” or “induced seismicity.” Fluid disposal, particularly disposal of saltwater produced along with petroleum, has been linked to earthquakes in Colorado, Texas, and  especially Oklahoma, which experienced a record number of magnitude 3.0 and greater earthquakes in 2014. This session will provide current data about seismic activity in the United States and discuss the connections between earthquakes and saltwater disposal, geothermal-resource development, carbon dioxide injection, and other human activities. It will address the development of mitigation practices to respond to induced seismicity. Teasing apart the difference between induced and natural seismicity, and responding appropriately, requires improved information -- better monitoring, subsurface imaging, data handling, and interpretation. Explaining those results, and the uncertainty of those results, to the public and decision-makers poses additional challenges.
Rex Buchanan, Kansas Geological Survey
William Savage, Seismological Society of America
Rex Buchanan, Kansas Geological Survey
Mark D. Zoback, Stanford University
Managing the Risks of Triggered Seismicity