ABSTRACT

Seismic swarms are defined as an increase in seismicity that does not show a clear mainshock–aftershock sequence. Typically, swarms are primarily associated with either fluid migration or slow earthquakes (aseismic slip). In this study, we analyze a swarm induced by hydraulic fracturing (HF) that persisted for an unusually long duration of more than 10 months. Swarms ascribed to fluid injection are usually characterized by an expanding seismicity front; in this case, however, characteristics such as a relatively steady seismicity rate over time and lack of hypocenter migration cannot be readily explained by a fluid‐diffusion model. Here, we show that a different model for HF‐induced seismicity, wherein an unstable region of a fault is loaded by proximal, pore‐pressure‐driven aseismic slip, better explains our observations. According to this model, the steady seismicity rate can be explained by a steady slip velocity, while the spatial stationarity of the event distribution is due to lateral confinement of the creeping region of the fault with increased pore pressure. Our results may have important implications for other induced or natural seismic swarms, which could be similarly explained by aseismic loading of asperities driven by fluid overpressure rather than the often‐attributed fluid‐migration model.

You do not currently have access to this article.