ABSTRACT

Hydraulic fracturing of the first shale gas well at Preston New Road (PNR), Blackpool, United Kingdom, in late 2018, marked the end of a 7 yr United Kingdom‐wide moratorium on fracking. Despite a strict traffic‐light system being in place, seismic events up to ML 2.9 were induced. The ML 2.9 event was accompanied by reports of damage and was assigned European Macroseismic Scale 1998 (EMS‐98) intensity VI by the British Geological Survey. The moratorium was subsequently reinstated in late 2019. The study here presents a pseudo‐probabilistic seismic risk analysis and is applied to the larger of the induced events at PNR, in addition to hypothetical larger events. Initially, site characterization analysis is undertaken using direct and indirect methods. These analyses show low‐velocity deposits dominate the region (VS30=227  m/s). We test existing ground‐motion prediction equations using spatially dependent VS30 to determine applicability to the recorded waveform data and produce a referenced empirical model. Predicting median and 84th percentile peak ground velocity fields, we subsequently determine macroseismic intensities. Epicentral intensities of IV, IV–V, and VI–VII are predicted for the observed ML 2.9, and hypothetical ML 3.5 and 4.5 scenarios, respectively. A probabilistic analysis of damage is performed for 3500 ground‐motion realizations (2.1ML4.5) using the OpenQuake‐engine, with nonlinear dynamic analysis undertaken to define building fragility. Based on these analyses, the onset of cosmetic damage (DS1) in terms of median risk is observed for the ML 2.9 event. Mean modeled occurrences of DS1 and DS2 (minor structural damage), 75 and 10 instances, respectively, are consistent with reported damage (DS1:97, DS2:50). Significant occurrences (median30 buildings) of DS2, DS3, and DS4 (minor to major structural damage) are likely for ML 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 events, respectively. However, by comparing reported damage with modeled damage due to the ML 2.9 event and considering the fact that low macroseismic intensities (EMS‐98 <4) are often not reported by the public, we conclude that the previously assigned intensity of VI is too high, with V being more appropriate.

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