Development of a Detailed Stress Map of Oklahoma for Avoidance of Potentially Active Faults When Siting Wastewater Injection Wells

Friday, 19 December 2014
Richard Charles Alt II and Mark D Zoback, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States
We report progress on a project to create a detailed map of in situ stress orientations and relative magnitudes throughout the state of Oklahoma. It is well known that the past 5 years has seen a remarkable increase in seismicity in much of the state, potentially related to waste water injection. The purpose of this project is to attempt to utilize detailed knowledge of the stress field to identify which pre-existing faults could be potentially active in response to injection-related pore pressure increases. Over 50 new stress orientations have been obtained, principally utilizing wellbore image data provided by the oil and gas industry. These data reveal a very uniform ENE direction of maximum compressive stress through much of the state. As earthquake focal plane mechanisms indicate strike-slip faulting, the stress orientation data indicate which pre-existing faults are potentially active. The data are consistent with slip on the near-vertical, NE-trending fault associated with at least one of the M 5+ earthquakes in the Prague, OK sequence in 2011. If successful, it would demonstrate that combining detailed information about pre-existing faults and the current stress field could be used to guide the siting of injection wells so as to decrease the potential for injection-related seismicity.