Abstract

The injection of fluids is a well‐known origin for the triggering of earthquake sequences. The growing number of projects related to enhanced geothermal systems, fracking, and others has led to the question, which maximum earthquake magnitude can be expected as a consequence of fluid injection? This question is addressed from the perspective of statistical analysis. Using basic empirical laws of earthquake statistics, we estimate the magnitude MT of the maximum expected earthquake in a predefined future time window Tf. A case study of the fluid injection site at Paradox Valley, Colorado, demonstrates that the magnitude m 4.3 of the largest observed earthquake on 27 May 2000 lies very well within the expectation from past seismicity without adjusting any parameters. Vice versa, for a given maximum tolerable earthquake at an injection site, we can constrain the corresponding amount of injected fluids that must not be exceeded within predefined confidence bounds.

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