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Linking fossil reefs with earthquakes: geologic insight to where induced seismicity occurs in Alberta

Faculty Advisor




induced seismicity, Western Canada Sedimentary Basin

Abstract (summary)

Recently, a significant increase in North American, midcontinent earthquakes has been associated with contemporaneous development of petroleum resources. Despite the proliferation of drilling throughout sedimentary basins worldwide, earthquakes are only induced at a small fraction of wells. In this study, we focus on cases of induced seismicity where high-resolution data are available in the central Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Our regional comparison of induced earthquake depths suggests basement-controlled tectonics. Complementary to these findings, hypocenters of induced seismicity clusters coincide with the margins of Devonian carbonate reefs. We interpret this spatial correspondence as the result of geographically biased activation potential, possibly as a consequence of reef nucleation preference to paleobathymetric highs associated with Precambrian basement tectonics. This finding demonstrates the importance of geologic/tectonic factors to earthquake induction, in addition to industrial operational parameters. In fact, the observation of induced seismicity silhouetting deep fossil reef systems may be a useful tool to identify future regions with increased seismogenic potential.

Publication Information

Schultz, Ryan, Hilary Corlett, Kristine Haug, Ken Kocon, Kelsey MacCormack, Virginia Stern, and Todd Shipman. "Linking fossil reefs with earthquakes: Geologic insight to where induced seismicity occurs in Alberta." Geophysical Research Letters 43, no. 6 (2016): 2534-2542.


Item Type





Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)