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Surface uplift and time-dependent seismic hazard due to fluid injection in eastern Texas

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Science  23 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6306, pp. 1416-1419
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0262

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Abstract

Observations that unequivocally link seismicity and wastewater injection are scarce. Here we show that wastewater injection in eastern Texas causes uplift, detectable in radar interferometric data up to >8 kilometers from the wells. Using measurements of uplift, reported injection data, and a poroelastic model, we computed the crustal strain and pore pressure. We infer that an increase of >1 megapascal in pore pressure in rocks with low compressibility triggers earthquakes, including the 4.8–moment magnitude event that occurred on 17 May 2012, the largest earthquake recorded in eastern Texas. Seismic activity increased even while injection rates declined, owing to diffusion of pore pressure from earlier periods with higher injection rates. Induced seismicity potential is suppressed where tight confining formations prevent pore pressure from propagating into crystalline basement rocks.

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