Regional-Scale Impacts of Fluid Composition and Geologic Structure for Injection-Induced Seismicity in the Southern U.S. Midcontinent
Konzen, Graydon Leo
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Over the last decade, an increase in earthquake occurrence in Oklahoma and Kansas has been linked to oilfield wastewater injection disposal, particularly into the regionally underpressured Arbuckle Group. The Arbuckle is hydraulically connected to Precambrian basement through an extensive fracture system, which transmits pressure perturbations from wastewater injections to seismogenic depths. Previous studies have convincingly attributed induced seismicity to pore pressure diffusion and solid elastic stressing, both resulting from fluid waste injection. Recent work adds to the physical understanding of injection-induced seismicity by demonstrating that the density differential between injection fluids and formation brines may also drive fluid pressure into the seismogenic basement. In this thesis, variable density groundwater flow is modeled in a numerical simulation comprising parts of the Anadarko Basin, the Anadarko Shelf, the Cherokee Platform, and the Nemaha Fault Zone as well as injection data from 2006-2018. Results show buoyancy forces interacting with regional stratigraphic dip to force density-driven pressure transients into the deep Anadarko Basin, aligning with previously unexplained earthquakes in that region.
General Audience Abstract
Increased earthquake activity in Oklahoma and Kansas over the last decade is linked waste disposal related to hydrofracking. Oil and gas produced in the fracking process is often mixed with large amounts of water that is too salty to be used for public or industrial purposes, thus this water is disposed of via injection into deep rock layers in the upper portion of the Earth's interior, or crust. This injection disturbs the crust to trigger earthquakes where none have been historically observed. Previous studies examining this phenomenon assume that the rock layers of the crust lie flat and level; simplify the nature of major faults, or cracks, in the crust; and do not consider differences in water chemistry between injected water and water that already occupies the crust. The study developed in this thesis considers the effect of these three factors with regard to how they influence the extent of the linkage between waste water injection and earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas.
- Masters Theses