Understanding and Mitigating Induced Seismicity Risk in the Kiskatinaw Area, BC

Lead Researcher(s):  D. Eaton

Project ID:  2019-005

Key Research Organization(s):  University of Calgary

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Energy-Oil and Gas

Summary



This project installs and monitors a closely spaced network of seismographs in the Kiskatinaw area of British Columbia’s Northeast Region to generate real-time, public data.

The project is one of a series of four research projects launched in December 2019 to further investigate how and why, in certain circumstances, earthquakes can be caused by hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal during natural gas development.

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Research Statement

Numerous factors influence the potential for the hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal activities used for natural gas development to cause earthquakes, a phenomenon known as induced seismicity.

Geoscience BC has been funding induced seismicity research in BC’s Northeast Region since 2012. Additional research is needed to better understand when, where and why induced seismicity occurs and to inform industry, government and community decisions so that the likelihood of future induced seismicity can be reduced.

In 2018, the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) designated the Kiskatinaw Seismic Monitoring and Mitigation Area (KSMMA) to “investigate a series of low-level seismic events” arising from hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing pumps a mixture of sand, water and additives into rocks, causing them to fracture and release a flow of natural gas. An array (network) of seismographs – highly sensitive instruments that record seismic waves – were installed to monitor the ground movement in the KSMMA.

The existing array is widely spaced over a large area to capture regional seismicity patterns. This project is installing more closely spaced sensors (a ‘dense array’) because studies have found that a dense array can provide a detailed picture of seismicity. Data from a dense array can be analyzed by researchers to create models to inform regulatory practice and to promote responsible natural gas development in BC’s Northeast Region.

Goals

This Energy project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Facilitating Responsible Natural Resource Development’ and our goal to:

  • Maintain joint research with partners examining seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing in northeastern BC to provide new science to better understand induced seismicity, mitigate risks and further improve regulation and industry practices.

Specifically, this project is:

  • generating new, public ground motion monitoring data in the KSMAA;
  • improving calibration of the ground-motion prediction equations to inform work in the area and update previous studies;
  • researching fault response to hydraulic fracturing and kinematics of fault rupture; and
  • providing real-time seismic data to the public, operators and regulators.

 

Benefits

The real-time, public data generated by this project will be used by researchers to help generate models to help predict when, where and why earthquakes associated with hydraulic fracturing occur. Specifically, it is creating new:

  • data that can be used to assess individual seismicity and regulatory requirements in the KSMAA;
  • train new subject matter experts (SMEs) / highly qualified persons (HQPs); and
  • generate new, peer reviewed literature to guide future practices and research.

 

Location Details

The dense seismograph array will be installed in the KSMMA, between Dawson Creek and Fort St John in BC’s Northeast Region.