Webinar provides insight into hydraulic fracturing and earthquake activity

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The link between hydraulic fracturing and increased seismic activity will be the topic of a web-based seminar to be presented by Penn State Extension. The presentation, from 1 to 2 p.m. on April 13, will feature David Eaton, professor of geoscience at the University of Calgary and NSERC/Chevron Industrial Chair in Microseismic System Dynamics, who will discuss his research.

A sharp increase in the rate of earthquake activity in the U.S. Midwest during the past six to nine years, primarily due to subsurface disposal of massive volumes of co-produced brine, has received considerable attention from the public, media and scientific community. A similar, albeit less pronounced, seismicity rate increase has been attributed to hydraulic fracturing operations in western Canada.

“This fracking-induced earthquake activity in western Canada appears to be limited to a few completion intervals and is localized within areas that collectively cover about 1 percent to 3 percent of the total region of industry activity,” Eaton said. “Where seismogenic faults have been well imaged, they appear to extend upwards from the basement into the sedimentary section. New insights into potential risk factors are emerging, such as proximity to basement and elevated pore pressure in the target zone.” 

Improved understanding of fault activation by hydraulic fracturing is contributing to better risk management and mitigation, with potential application to other areas such as the Utica play in Ohio, noted Eaton, a renowned international seismologist whose past work has helped to develop improved microseismic technology for hydraulic fracture monitoring and a better understanding of the architecture and geological evolution of continents.

The webinar is free, but registration is necessary. To register, visit the Penn State Extension Natural Gas Events webpage. More information is available by contacting Carol Loveland at 570-320-4429 or cal24@psu.edu.

Penn State Extension's Marcellus Education Team provides monthly webinars on a variety of topics. Upcoming webinars include:

--May 18: “Oil and Gas Revenues and Local Impacts Across 16 U.S. States,” featuring Daniel Raimi, senior research associate with Resources for the Future

--June 15: “Shale Legislative Updates,” featuring Ross Pifer, clinical professor at Penn State’s Law School, director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic and director of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law

Previous webinars, publications and information also are available on the Penn State Extension natural-gas website, covering a variety of topics such as liquid natural gas, seismic testing, methane emissions; water use and quality; Marcellus and Utica basins; natural gas reserves; gas-leasing considerations for landowners; legal issues surrounding gas development; and the impact of Marcellus gas development on forestland.

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Last Updated April 04, 2017