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Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies

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In the past several years, some energy technologies that inject or extract fluid from the Earth, such as oil and gas development and geothermal energy development, have been found or suspected to cause seismic events, drawing heightened public attention.

Although only a very small fraction of injection and extraction activities among the hundreds of thousands of energy development sites in the United States have induced seismicity at levels noticeable to the public, understanding the potential for inducing felt seismic events and for limiting their occurrence and impacts is desirable for state and federal agencies, industry, and the public at large. To better understand, limit, and respond to induced seismic events, work is needed to build robust prediction models, to assess potential hazards, and to help relevant agencies coordinate to address them.

Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies identifies gaps in knowledge and research needed to advance the understanding of induced seismicity; identify gaps in induced seismic hazard assessment methodologies and the research to close those gaps; and assess options for steps toward best practices with regard to energy development and induced seismicity potential.


Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2013. Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

262 pages |7 x 10
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-25367-3
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-25370-3

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xiv
Executive Summary 1-4
Summary 5-22
1 Induced Seismicity and Energy Technologies 23-36
2 Types and Causes of Induced Seismicity 37-58
3 Energy Technologies: How They Work and Their Induced Seismicity Potential 59-116
4 Governmental Roles and Responsibilities Related to Underground Injection and Induced Seismicity 117-138
5 Paths Forward to Understanding and Managing Induced Seismicity in Energy Technology Development 139-150
6 Steps Toward a "Best Practices" Protocol 151-164
7 Addressing Induced Seismicity: Findings, Conclusions, Research, and Proposed Actions 165-178
Appendixes 179-180
Appendix A: Committee and Staff Biographies 181-186
Appendix B: Meeting Agendas 187-194
Appendix C: Observations of Induced Seismicity 195-206
Appendix D: Letters between Senator Bingaman and Secretary Chu 207-210
Appendix E: Earthquake Size Estimates and Negative Earthquake Magnitudes 211-216
Appendix F: The Failure of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir Dam 217-218
Appendix G: Seismic Event Due to Fluid Injection or Withdrawal 219-224
Appendix H: Pore Pressure Induced by Fluid Injection 225-228
Appendix I: Hydraulic Fracture Microseismic Monitoring 229-232
Appendix J: Hydraulic Fracturing in Eola Field, Garvin County, Oklahoma, and Potential Link to Induced Seismicity 233-238
Appendix K: Paradox Valley Unit Saltwater Injection Project 239-242
Appendix L: Estimated Injected Fluid Volumes 243-246
Appendix M: Additional Acknowledgments 247-248


Energy Technologies and Manmade Earthquakes: What's the Connection?

About 60% of the energy consumed in the United States come from fluids pumped from the ground. Activities related to producing this energy, including conventional oil and gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing, geothermal energy production, and underground injection of wastewater, have been linked to a small number manmade earthquakes. This video, based on the NRC report, examines the scientific basis for manmade seismic activity and discusses practices that can help reduce risks.


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