Man-Made Frac Quakes Could Threaten 3.5 Million Americans in 2017: USGS Report

2017 One‐Year Seismic‐Hazard Forecast for the Central and Eastern United States from Induced and Natural Earthquakes by Mark D. Petersen, Charles S. Mueller, Morgan P. Moschetti, Susan M. Hoover, Allison M. Shumway, Daniel E. McNamara, Robert A. Williams, Andrea L. Llenos, William L. Ellsworth, Andrew J. Michael, Justin L. Rubinstein, Arthur F. McGarr, and Kenneth S. Rukstales, March 1, 2017, Geoscienceworld Seismological Research Letters. DOI: 10.1785/0220170005


We produce a one‐year 2017 seismic‐hazard forecast for the central and eastern United States from induced and natural earthquakes that updates the 2016 one‐year forecast; this map is intended to provide information to the public and to facilitate the development of induced seismicity forecasting models, methods, and data. The 2017 hazard model applies the same methodology and input logic tree as the 2016 forecast, but with an updated earthquake catalog. We also evaluate the 2016 seismic‐hazard forecast to improve future assessments. The 2016 forecast indicated high seismic hazard (greater than 1% probability of potentially damaging ground shaking in one year) in five focus areas: Oklahoma–Kansas, the Raton basin (Colorado/New Mexico border), north Texas, north Arkansas, and the New Madrid Seismic Zone. During 2016, several damaging induced earthquakes occurred in Oklahoma within the highest hazard region of the 2016 forecast; all of the 21 moment magnitude (M) ≥4 and 3 M≥5 earthquakes occurred within the highest hazard area in the 2016 forecast. Outside the Oklahoma–Kansas focus area, two earthquakes with M≥4 occurred near Trinidad, Colorado (in the Raton basin focus area), but no earthquakes with M≥2.7 were observed in the north Texas or north Arkansas focus areas. Several observations of damaging ground‐shaking levels were also recorded in the highest hazard region of Oklahoma. The 2017 forecasted seismic rates are lower in regions of induced activity due to lower rates of earthquakes in 2016 compared with 2015, which may be related to decreased wastewater injection caused by regulatory actions or by a decrease in unconventional oil and gas production. Nevertheless, the 2017 forecasted hazard is still significantly elevated in Oklahoma compared to the hazard calculated from seismicity before 2009. [Emphasis added]

Man-Made Earthquakes Could Threaten 3.5 Million People This Year: Report by Justin Worland, March 1, 2017, Time Science

The risk of man-made earthquakes will decline slightly in 2017, though parts of the central United States remain threatened, according to a new report.

The study from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) finds that 3.5 million people — primarily in Oklahoma and southern Kansas — live in an area vulnerable to significant damage from a man-made earthquake.

An additional half million people live in areas vulnerable to damage from natural earthquakes.

Man-made earthquakes are primarily the result of wastewater injection, a process where the liquid byproduct of fracking is disposed of deep underground. [As well as directly caused by frac’ing] The frequency of earthquakes in the central U.S. has increased hundreds fold since the dawn of widespread fracking nearly a decade ago. [Emphasis added]

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