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TitleInSAR data reveal that the largest hydraulic fracturing-induced earthquake in Canada, to date, is a slow-slip event
AuthorEyre, T S; Samsonov, SORCID logo; Feng, W; Kao, HORCID logo; Eaton, D W
SourceScientific Reports vol. 12, issue 1, 2022 p. 1-12, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20210527
PublisherSpringer Nature
Mediadigital; on-line
File formatpdf
ProvinceBritish Columbia
NTS94A/02; 94A/03; 94A/04; 94A/05; 94A/11; 94A/12; 94B/01; 94B/02; 94B/07; 94B/08; 94B/09; 94B/10
Lat/Long WENS-123.0000 -120.5000 57.5000 56.0000
Subjectstectonics; hydrologic properties; fracture analyses; fractures; fracturing; hydraulic fracturing; earthquakes; faults, slip
Illustrationslocation maps; schematic representations; figures
ProgramEnvironmental Geoscience Shale Gas - induced seismicity
Released2022 02 07
AbstractFor tectonic earthquakes, slip rate spans a continuum from creep to supershear earthquakes, where slow slip events (SSEs) are important in releasing stress without radiating damaging seismic energy. Industrial-scale subsurface fluid injection has caused induced earthquakes, but the role of SSEs in fault activation is currently unclear. Ground-deformation observations, measured by satellite radar, show that SSEs up to magnitude 5.0 occurred during hydraulic fracturing (HF) operations in northwestern Canada, corroborated by reported deformation of the steel well casing. Although the magnitude 5.0 SSE exceeded the magnitude of the largest induced earthquake in this region (magnitude 4.55), it was undetected by seismograph networks. The observed SSEs occurred within a buried thrust belt and their magnitude and duration are consistent with scaling behavior of SSEs in unbounded natural systems, e.g. slab interfaces in subduction zones.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Tectonic stress can be released in various forms, ranging from slow slip events to damaging earthquakes. It is widely accepted that Industrial-scale subsurface fluid injection can generate induced earthquakes, but whether it can also generate slow slip events remains unclear. In this study, we analyze satellite data to investigate the ground deformation patterns before and after hydraulic fracturing operations in western Canada. We identify a slow slip event that is equivalent to a magnitude 5.0 earthquake. This event was not detected by the regional seismograph networks because the stress was not released as seismic waves. Modeling result suggests that this slow slip event occurred within a buried thrust fault that was reactivated by the injected fluid.

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