Induced Seismicity: Are humans causing earthquakes?
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are
- Scientific Accuracy
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- Pedagogic Effectiveness
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For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jun 7, 2017
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
1. Describe the processes involved in unconventional oil and gas production.
2. Collect and analyze seismicity data for a region of interest using the IRIS Earthquake Browser.
3. Use data to either support or refute potential correlations between hydrofracking and/or disposal wells and earthquakes in Oklahoma.
4. Describe how other processes, such as geothermal energy might similarly induce seismicity.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
As an optional extension, students can also investigate geothermal activity at the Geysers in California, to illustrate the difficulty in assessing natural versus induced seismicity in such a geologically complex region.
Instructor guide for "Induced Seismicity: Are Humans causing earthquakes?" (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 536kB Jun15 17)
Student worksheet KEY "Induced seismicity" (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 4.7MB Jun15 17)
Student worksheet "Induced seismicity" (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 993kB Jun15 17)
Induced seismicity figures (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 6MB Jun5 17)
Earthquakes hydrofrac and injection wells (KMZ File 164kB Jun5 17)
Teaching Notes and Tips
An activity key is provided which can be used to assess whether students have met the goals of the activity
References and Resources
Duggan-Haas, Robert M. Ross, and Warren D. Allmon (2013) The Science Beneath the Surface: A very short guide to the Marcellus shale,Paleontological Research Institution (Special Publication 43), Ithaca, New York, 252 pp.
Ellsworth, W. L. (2013), Injection-Induced earthquakes, Science, 341, 142-149.
Keranen, K. M., H. M. Savage, G. A. Abers, E. S. Cochran (2013), Potentially induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA Links between wastewater injection and the 2011 Mw5.7 earthquake sequence, Geology, doi:10.1130/G34045.1.Langenbruch, C., and M. D. Zoback (2016), How will induced seismicity in Oklahoma respond to decreased saltwater injection rates?, Sci. Adv., 2(11), e1601542–e1601542, doi:10.1126/sciadv.1601542.
National Research Council (2013), Induced seismicity potential in energy technologies, Washington, D.C., The National Academies Press, 262 p., http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13355.
Rubinstein, J. L., and A. B. Mahani (2015), Myths and Facts on Wastewater Injection, Hydraulic Fracturing, Enhanced Oil Recovery, and Induced Seismicity, Seismo. Res. Lett., 86, no. 4, doi: 10.1785/0220150067.