Potential Link Between 2020 Mentone, West Texas M5 Earthquake and Nearby Wastewater Injection: Implications for Aquifer Mechanical Properties

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The M5 Mentone earthquake that occurred on March 26, 2020, was the largest event recorded over the last 2 decades in West Texas within the Delaware Basin, a U.S. major petroleum-producing area. Also, numerous hydrofracturing and wastewater disposal wells are spread across this region. Within a 30 km distance to mainshock, eight class-II injection wells for industrial wastewater disposal target the deep porous Ellenburger aquifer at an average rate of 1.36 x 10(6) barrel (BBL) per month during 2012-2020. Poroelastic models of fluid diffusion show these nearby injectors collectively imparted up to 80.5 kPa of Coulomb stress at the mainshock location, capable of triggering this M5 event. Assuming the Mentone event occurs when pore-pressure increase is maximum, the time delay between peak injection and the M5 occurrence corresponds with an optimal permeability of 6.76 x 10(-14) m(2) for the Ellenburger aquifer layer, in agreement with independent estimates.

induced seismicity, injection, Mentone earthquake, Texas, wastewater