Journal article Open Access

Increasing seismicity in the U. S. midcontinent: Implications for earthquake hazard

Ellsworth, William L.; Llenos, Andrea L.; McGarr, Arthur F.; Michael, Andrew J.; Rubinstein, Justin L.; Mueller, Charles S.; Petersen, Mark D.; Calais, Éric

Earthquake activity in parts of the central United States has increased dramatically in recent years. The space-time distribution of the increased seismicity, as well as numerous published case studies, indicates that the increase is of anthropogenic origin, principally driven by injection of wastewater coproduced with oil and gas from tight formations. Enhanced oil recovery and long-term production also contribute to seismicity at a few locations. Preliminary hazard models indicate that areas experiencing the highest rate of earthquakes in 2014 have a short-term (one-year) hazard comparable to or higher than the hazard in the source region of tectonic earthquakes in the New Madrid and Charleston seismic zones.

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