Wastewater Injection Can Make Faults Twice as Likely to Fail, Quake Study Says

When earthquakes first jolted Dallas-Fort Worth residents in the fall of 2008, academic researchers knew little about the dense network of faults that run through our region. Now, two newly published studies offer the most complete picture yet of the fissures beneath North Texas and the thousands of small earthquakes they have hosted. The new research also shows that wastewater injection from oil and gas operations makes faults much more likely to slip. When scientists modeled fault behavior before and after wastewater disposal, they found that disposal pressures could double the chance of earthquakes. The findings solidify the conclusion that North Texas quakes have been triggered by humans and not by Mother Nature. “These papers are really useful for trying to understand what’s going on in the Fort Worth basin,” the geological formation that underlies much of North Texas, said Michael Brudzinski, a seismologist at Miami University in Ohio who studies human-induced earthquakes but was not involved in the new publications. In the fault study, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University and Southern Methodist University mapped and analyzed 251 fissures in North Texas with a total length of more than 1,800 miles.   Continue reading...

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