Statistical Seismology and Induced Seismicity

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Kristy French Tiampo, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada, Pablo J González, University of Leeds, Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics. School of Earth and Environment, Leeds, United Kingdom and Javad Kazemian, University of Alberta, Department of Physics, Edmonton, AB, Canada
While seismicity triggered or induced by natural resources production such as mining or water impoundment in large dams has long been recognized, the recent increase in the unconventional production of oil and gas has been linked to rapid rise in seismicity in many places, including central North America (Ellsworth et al., 2012; Ellsworth, 2013). Worldwide, induced events of M~5 have occurred and, although rare, have resulted in both damage and public concern (Horton, 2012; Keranen et al., 2013). In addition, over the past twenty years, the increase in both number and coverage of seismic stations has resulted in an unprecedented ability to precisely record the magnitude and location of large numbers of small magnitude events.

The increase in the number and type of seismic sequences available for detailed study has revealed differences in their statistics that previously difficult to quantify. For example, seismic swarms that produce significant numbers of foreshocks as well as aftershocks have been observed in different tectonic settings, including California, Iceland, and the East Pacific Rise (McGuire et al., 2005; Shearer, 2012; Kazemian et al., 2014). Similarly, smaller events have been observed prior to larger induced events in several occurrences from energy production. The field of statistical seismology has long focused on the question of triggering and the mechanisms responsible (Stein et al., 1992; Hill et al., 1993; Steacy et al., 2005; Parsons, 2005; Main et al., 2006). For example, in most cases the associated stress perturbations are much smaller than the earthquake stress drop, suggesting an inherent sensitivity to relatively small stress changes (Nalbant et al., 2005). Induced seismicity provides the opportunity to investigate triggering and, in particular, the differences between long- and short-range triggering.

Here we investigate the statistics of induced seismicity sequences from around the world, including central North America and Spain, and natural earthquake swarms and non-swarm tectonic events from California, Nevada and Iceland. We compare the foreshock and aftershock Omori decay parameters and the Gutenberg-Richter frequency-magnitude scaling relationships for these different sequences in order to better understand the relationship between triggering and cascade sequences.