On March 1, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey released an updated hazard map that forecasts the likelihood of induced seismic events for the coming year. This is the second year that USGS has published an induced seismicity forecast. Previously, the agency only projected naturally occurring seismic events and identified “induced seismicity zones.” According to USGS, the overall seismic hazard for 2017 is lower than that forecasted in 2016. USGS attributes the decrease in induced seismic events to an overall decrease in oil and natural gas wastewater injection. USGS uses induced seismicity data from the previous 12 months to project induced seismic events over the coming year.
In shale basins of note:
Texas (including Permian, Eagle Ford, Barnett, and Haynesville):
In 2016, USGS projected that parts of the Barnett shale had a 5% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event. In 2017, USGS projects that, aside from a small portion of the Permian, Texas has a less than 1% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event. USGS has identified a small area southwest of Odessa as having a slightly elevated chance (1%-2%) of experiencing an induced seismic event.
Appalachia (including Marcellus and Utica):
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia continue to have a very small chance of experiencing induced seismicity. The 2016 model identified Appalachia as having a less than 1% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event, but noted that Ashtabula and Youngstown, Ohio were two induced seismicity zones that could impact future forecasts. Both zones remained quiet throughout 2016.
Rockies/Upper Midwest (including Bakken, Denver, and Pierre):
Colorado and the Upper Midwest remain relatively unlikely to experience an induced seismic event in 2017. According to USGS, the Bakken does not have any recorded incidents of induced seismicity, and some of Colorado’s induced seismic events are likely unrelated to oil and natural gas development activities. Aside from a small area in south-central Colorado, USGS projects that the region has a less than 1% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event in 2017.
Despite the overall decrease in induced seismic events, parts of Oklahoma continue to have a greater than 10% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event. USGS notes in its press release that despite the decrease in overall seismic events in 2016, Oklahoma experienced the largest seismic event ever recorded in the state as well as the greatest number of large seismic events compared to any prior year.