GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 149-5
Presentation Time: 9:10 AM


BUCHANAN, Rex, Kansas Geological Survey Univ Kansas, 1930 Constant Ave, Lawrence, KS 66047-3724

In 2009, the Midcontinent began experiencing a dramatic increase in rates and magnitude of seismicity. Attention eventually centered on disposal of large volumes of oilfield brines in rock formations directly above the Precambrian basement, triggering movement in critically stressed faults. Various regulatory agencies, state geological surveys and the U.S. Geological Survey, private industry, and university faculty began to analyze and respond to this anthropogenic or induced seismicity, coming up with a range of mitigation strategies, from a complete moratorium on disposal in parts of Arkansas to cutting back disposal in designated parts of Kansas to shutting down wells in Oklahoma. Seismicity generally declined in much of the Midcontinent; the decrease was related to mitigation and to lower oil prices which led to lessened brine disposal.

Several public policy lessons are clear from the state responses to induced seismicity. First, a variety of new and effective mitigation strategies were developed and implemented. Second, increased seismic monitoring was critical to understanding the issue and directing the response. Third, interstate cooperation was significant; an example is the formation of the Regional Induced Seismicity Collaborative, which includes representation from five Midcontinent states. Finally, responses required regular interaction with the public, legislators, local government, and non-governmental organizations. In particular, discourse with the public meant dialogue and conversation, not simply presentation of data. The social sciences have a significant role to play in helping the geoscience community improve that communication.