Wastewater Injections Responsible for Oklahoma Earthquakes

Wastewater Injections Responsible for Oklahoma Earthquakes

A new study shows that nearly half of earthquakes in central and eastern United States have occurred in areas of high-rate water disposal.

A research team at Cornell University has discovered that the earthquakes in Oklahoma are a result of subsurface wastewater injection at disposal wells.

"Induced seismicity is one of the primary challenges for expanded shale gas and unconventional hydrocarbon development," said Katie Keranen, professor of geophysics at Cornwell University and research team leader. "Our results provide insight into the process by which the earthquakes are induced and suggest that adherence to standard best practices may substantially reduce the risk of inducing seismicity. The best practices include avoiding wastewater disposal near major faults and the use of appropriate monitoring and mitigation strategies."

The study shows that the highest-volume disposal wells could be responsible for 20 percent of the recent earthquake which cover 2,000 square kilometers; most of the earthquakes occur over 30 kilometers from the disposal wells; and the probability of a higher-magnitude earthquake increases at the pressure in the wells continues to expand.

"Earthquake and subsurface pressure monitoring should be routinely conducted in regions of wastewater disposal and all data from those should be publicly accessible. This should also include detailed monitoring and reporting of pumping volumes and pressures," said Keranen. "In many states, the data are more difficult to obtain than for Oklahoma; databases should be standardized nationally. Independent quality assurance checks would increase confidence."

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar