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GEOREF RECORD

The 2001-present induced earthquake sequence in the Raton Basin of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado

Justin L. Rubinstein, William L. Ellsworth, Arthur McGarr and Harley M. Benz
The 2001-present induced earthquake sequence in the Raton Basin of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (October 2014) 104 (5): 2162-2181

Abstract

We investigate the ongoing seismicity in the Raton Basin and find that the deep injection of wastewater from the coal-bed methane field is responsible for inducing the majority of the seismicity since 2001. Many lines of evidence indicate that this earthquake sequence was induced by wastewater injection. First, there was a marked increase in seismicity shortly after major fluid injection began in the Raton Basin in 1999. From 1972 through July 2001, there was one M> or =4 earthquake in the Raton Basin, whereas 12 occurred between August 2001 and 2013. The statistical likelihood that such a rate change would occur if earthquakes behaved randomly in time is 3.0%. Moreover, this rate change is limited to the area of industrial activity. Earthquake rates remain low in the surrounding area. Second, the vast majority of the seismicity is within 5 km of active disposal wells and is shallow, ranging between 2 and 8 km depth. The two most carefully studied earthquake sequences in 2001 and 2011 have earthquakes within 2 km of high-volume, high-injection-rate wells. Third, injection wells in the area are commonly very high volume and high rate. Two wells adjacent to the August 2011 M 5.3 earthquake injected about 4.9 million cubic meters of wastewater before the earthquake, more than seven times the amount injected at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal well that caused damaging earthquakes near Denver, Colorado, in the 1960s. The August 2011 M 5.3 event is the second-largest earthquake to date for which there is clear evidence that the earthquake sequence was induced by fluid injection.


ISSN: 0037-1106
EISSN: 1943-3573
Coden: BSSAAP
Serial Title: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Serial Volume: 104
Serial Issue: 5
Title: The 2001-present induced earthquake sequence in the Raton Basin of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado
Affiliation: U. S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA, United States
Pages: 2162-2181
Published: 201410
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, Berkeley, CA, United States
References: 56
Accession Number: 2014-091575
Categories: Seismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: Includes appendices
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 2 tables, sketch maps
N36°47'60" - N37°17'60", W105°00'00" - W104°00'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201447
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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