ABSTRACT

Seismicity in the central United States has dramatically increased since 2008, due in large part to the injection of wastewater produced by oil and gas extraction. In response to this phenomenon, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) created a one‐year probabilistic hazard model and map for 2016 to portray the increased hazard posed to the central and eastern United States. Using the intensity of shaking reported to the “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI) system during 2016, we assessed the performance of this model using a metric that compared the fraction of sites at which the maximum shaking exceeded the mapped value to the fraction that had been expected. These fractions are similar for both the central and eastern United States as a whole, as well as for the region within this area with the highest amount of seismicity ‐ Oklahoma and its surrounding area. We observe the greatest mismatch in northern Texas, with hazard overstated, presumably because lower oil and gas prices and regulatory action reduced the water injection volume relative to that of the previous year. We also assessed the model using a misfit metric that compares the spatial patterns of predicted and maximum observed shaking. This hazard map performs better by both metrics than other hazard maps we have studied. These results imply that such hazard maps can be valuable tools for policy makers and regulators in attempts to manage the seismic risks associated with unconventional oil and gas production.

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