Hydraulic Fracturing and West Texas Quakes

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A graphic depicting TexNEt seismic monitoring stations.

A study by scientists from the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program shows that some of the recent earthquake activity in the Delaware Basin of West Texas may be related to hydraulic fracturing.

β€œThe research done through this new study in West Texas, using a statistical approach to associate seismicity with oil and gas operations, suggests that some seismicity is more likely related to hydraulic fracturing than saltwater disposal,” said Alexandros Savvaidis, a research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology and manager of TexNet.

Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to seismicity in other areas β€” Oklahoma, China and Canada β€” but this study, published Oct. 14, 2019, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, is the first to link it to induced seismicity in Texas.

The Delaware Basin is a part of the Permian Basin, a prolific oil and gas producing region that has seen a significant rise in exploration and production during the past few years. The Permian Basin now produces more than 5 million barrels of oil per day.