[Source: Nature Geoscience, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
The susceptibility of Oklahoma’s basement to seismic reactivation
F. Kolawole, C. S. Johnston, C. B. Morgan, J. C. Chang, K. J. Marfurt, D. A. Lockner, Z. Reches & B. M. Carpenter
Nature Geoscience (2019)
Recent widespread seismicity in Oklahoma is attributed to the reactivation of pre-existing, critically stressed and seismically unstable faults due to decades of wastewater injection. However, the structure and properties of the reactivated faults remain concealed by the sedimentary cover. Here, we explore the major ingredients needed to induce earthquakes in Oklahoma by characterizing basement faults in the field, in seismic surveys and via rock-mechanics experiments. Outcrop and satellite mapping reveal widespread fault and fracture systems with trends that display a marked similarity to the trends of recent earthquake lineaments. Our three-dimensional seismic analyses show steeply dipping basement-rooted faults that penetrate the overlying sedimentary sequences, representing pathways for wastewater migration. Experimental stability analysis indicates that Oklahoma’s basement rocks become seismically unstable at conditions relevant to the dominant hypocentral depths of the recent earthquakes. These analyses demonstrate that the geometry, structure and mechanical stability of Oklahoma’s basement make it critically susceptible to seismic reactivation.
Keywords: Geology; USA; Fracking; Earthquakes; Oklahoma.