Abstract

The rate of ML≥3 earthquakes in the central and eastern United States increased beginning in 2009, particularly in Oklahoma and central Arkansas, where fluid injection has occurred. We find evidence that suggests these rate increases are man‐made by examining the rate changes in a catalog of ML≥3 earthquakes in Oklahoma, which had a low background seismicity rate before 2009, as well as rate changes in a catalog of ML≥2.2 earthquakes in central Arkansas, which had a history of earthquake swarms prior to the start of injection in 2009. In both cases, stochastic epidemic‐type aftershock sequence models and statistical tests demonstrate that the earthquake rate change is statistically significant, and both the background rate of independent earthquakes and the aftershock productivity must increase in 2009 to explain the observed increase in seismicity. This suggests that a significant change in the underlying triggering process occurred. Both parameters vary, even when comparing natural to potentially induced swarms in Arkansas, which suggests that changes in both the background rate and the aftershock productivity may provide a way to distinguish man‐made from natural earthquake rate changes. In Arkansas we also compare earthquake and injection well locations, finding that earthquakes within 6 km of an active injection well tend to occur closer together than those that occur before, after, or far from active injection. Thus, like a change in productivity, a change in interevent distance distribution may also be an indicator of induced seismicity.

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