Recently, two studies related to induced seismicity have been published in science journals analyzing the relationship between underground wastewater disposal and the increase of earthquakes.
The study entitled “High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity” examines the impact of injected wastewater into the ground on seismicity in the central U.S., including states of Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The other study considered the same issue but specifically in Oklahoma, and is entitled “Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes and saltwater disposal.”
Authors of the U.S mid-continent study observed that injection rates higher than 300,000 barrels per month are very likely to be associated with induced seismicity, and concluded that “injection rate is the most important well operational parameter affecting the likelihood of an induced seismic event in regions and basins potentially prone to induced seismicity.”
As for the Oklahoma study, researchers found that hydraulic fracturing flow-back water was unlikely to be related to induced seismicity and explained that “the volume of hydraulic fracturing flow-back water to be disposed into the wells represents “an extremely small fraction.”
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow