Hydraulic Fracturing Operation for Oil and Gas Production and Associated Earthquake Activities Across the USA

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Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations, associated with horizontal drilling for oil/gas production, are known to induce earthquakes from fluid injection in disposal wells. In recent years, numerous studies have shown a close relationship between induced seismic activities and the high-pressure injection of wastewater, especially in Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Detailed analysis of 17 major fracking locations across the USA has been carried out to study the impact of horizontal wells and the corresponding injected wastewater on earthquake activities. Earthquake data for the period 1998–2018 obtained from the USGS earthquake catalog shows an increase in frequency of earthquakes within a radius of 150 km at fracking locations, prominently in south-central USA. The stimulation of earthquakes depends on the amount of injected water in both horizontal and disposal injected wells, and the geology, hydrological, and geophysical settings nearby the drilling site. The observed seismicity increases with the number of horizontal wells in Texas (correlation R2 = 0.726) and Oklahoma (correlation R2 = 0.636) at the fracking locations.


This article was originally published in Environmental Earth Sciences, volume 79, in 2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-020-09008-0

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