Hydraulic fracturing volume is associated with induced earthquake productivity in the Duvernay play

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Science  19 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6373, pp. 304-308
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0159

Seismicity curbed by lowering volume

Determining why hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) triggered earthquakes in the Duvernay Formation in Canada is important for future hazard mitigation. Schultz et al. found that injection volume was the key operational parameter correlated with induced earthquakes in the Duvernay. However, geological factors also played a considerable role in determining whether a large injection volume would trigger earthquakes. These findings provide a framework that may lead to better forecasting of induced seismicity.

Science, this issue p. 304


A sharp increase in the frequency of earthquakes near Fox Creek, Alberta, began in December 2013 in response to hydraulic fracturing. Using a hydraulic fracturing database, we explore relationships between injection parameters and seismicity response. We show that induced earthquakes are associated with completions that used larger injection volumes (104 to 105 cubic meters) and that seismic productivity scales linearly with injection volume. Injection pressure and rate have an insignificant association with seismic response. Further findings suggest that geological factors play a prominent role in seismic productivity, as evidenced by spatial correlations. Together, volume and geological factors account for ~96% of the variability in the induced earthquake rate near Fox Creek. This result is quantified by a seismogenic index–modified frequency-magnitude distribution, providing a framework to forecast induced seismicity.

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