Faults and associated karst collapse suggest conduits for fluid flow that influence hydraulic fracturing-induced seismicity
dissolution karst, hydraulically active faults, induced seismicity, hydraulic fracturing
During December 2011, a swarm of moderate-magnitude earthquakes was induced by hydraulic fracturing (HF) near Cardston, Alberta. Despite seismological associations linking these two processes, the hydrological and tectonic mechanisms involved remain unclear. In this study, we interpret a 3D reflection-seismic survey to delve into the geological factors related to these earthquakes. First, we document a basement-rooted fault on which the earthquake rupture occurred that extends above the targeted reservoir. Second, at the reservoir’s stratigraphic level, anomalous subcircular features are recognized along the fault and are interpreted as resulting from fault-associated karst processes. These observations have implications for HF-induced seismicity, as they suggest hydraulic communication over a large (vertical) distance, reconciling the discrepancy between the culprit well trajectory and earthquake hypocenters. We speculate on how these newly identified geological factors could drive the sporadic appearance of induced seismicity and thus be utilized to avoid earthquake hazards.
Galloway, Elwyn, Tyler Hauck, Hilary Corlett, Dinu Pană, and Ryan Schultz. "Faults and associated karst collapse suggest conduits for fluid flow that influence hydraulic fracturing-induced seismicity." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 43 (2018): E10003-E10012.
All Rights Reserved