A Site Characterization Protocol for Evaluating the Potential for Triggered or Induced Seismicity Resulting from Wastewater Injection and Hydraulic Fracturing

Friday, 19 December 2014
Randi J Walters, Mark D Zoback, Abhineet Gupta, Jack Baker and Gregory C Beroza, Stanford Univ, Stanford, CA, United States
Regulatory and governmental agencies, individual companies and industry groups and others have recently proposed, or are developing, guidelines aimed at reducing the risk associated with earthquakes triggered by waste water injection or hydraulic fracturing. While there are a number of elements common to the guidelines proposed, not surprisingly, there are also some significant differences among them and, in a number of cases, important considerations that are not addressed. The goal of this work is to develop a comprehensive protocol for site characterization based on a rigorous scientific understanding of the responsible processes. Topics addressed will include the geologic setting (emphasizing faults that might be affected), historical seismicity, hydraulic characterization of injection and adjacent intervals, geomechanical characterization to identify potentially active faults, plans for seismic monitoring and reporting, plans for monitoring and reporting injection (pressure, volumes, and rates), other factors contributing to risk (potentially affected population centers, structures, and facilities), and implementing a modified Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA). The guidelines will be risk based and adaptable, rather than prescriptive, for a proposed activity and region of interest. They will be goal oriented and will rely, to the degree possible, on established best practice procedures, referring to existing procedures and recommendations. By developing a risk-based site characterization protocol, we hope to contribute to the development of rational and effective measures for reducing the risk posed by activities that potentially trigger earthquakes.