ABSTRACT

On 17 August 2015, an Mw 4.6 earthquake occurred northwest of Fort St. John, British Columbia, possibly induced by hydraulic fracturing (HF). We use data from eight broadband seismometers located 50  km from the hypocenter to detect and estimate source parameters of more than 300 events proximal to the mainshock. Stress‐drop values estimated using seismic moment and corner frequency from single‐event spectra and spectral ratios range from 1 to 35 MPa, within the typical range of tectonic earthquakes. We observe an 5‐day delay between the onset of fluid injection and the mainshock, a b‐value of 0.78 for the sequence, and a maximum earthquake magnitude larger than the prediction based on the total injection volume, suggesting that the Mw 4.6 sequence occurred on a pre‐existing fault and that the maximum magnitude is likely controlled by tectonic conditions. Results presented here show that pre‐existing fault structures should be taken into consideration to better estimate seismic hazard associated with HF operations and to develop schemes for risk mitigation in close proximity to HF wells.

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