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Predicting earthquake hazards from wastewater injection

A byproduct of oil and gas production is a large quantity of toxic wastewater called brine. Well-drillers dispose of brine by injecting it into deep rock formations, where its injection can cause earthquakes. Most quakes are relatively small, but some of them have been large and damaging.  Yet predicting the amount of seismic activity from wastewater injection is difficult because it involves numerous variables. These include the quantity of brine injected, how easily brine can move through the rock, the presence of existing geological faults, and the regional stresses on those faults.  Now a team of Arizona State University-led geoscientists, working under a Department of Energy grant, has developed a method to predict seismic activity from wastewater disposal. The team's study area is in Oklahoma, a state where much fracking activity has been carried out with a lot of wastewater injection, and where there have been several induced earthquakes producing damage.  Read more....



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