Technical CommentsSeismology

Comment on “How will induced seismicity in Oklahoma respond to decreased saltwater injection rates?” by C. Langenbruch and M. D. Zoback

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Science Advances  09 Aug 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 8, e1700441
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700441


  • Fig. 1 Annual exceedance probability as a function of p and b values in 2017 and 2025.

    For 2017, the probability of a M ≥ 5 event varies between 37 to 80% and remains significantly above the tectonic probabilities. Probabilities remain far above historic (that is, tectonic) values even in 2025. (A) Modified Omori aftershock decay following L&Z for the complete catalog (black) and a catalog with aftershocks removed (gray). The best-fitting p values are 1.4 (yellow) and 1.2 (red), respectively, which is significantly smaller than p = 2.0 (green) in the study of L&Z. (B and C) Magnitude distributions (colored circles) for different time periods in the study of L&Z (see legend) and maximum likelihood b value fits (colored lines) with Mc = 3.0 (triangles) for western and central Oklahoma. The best-fitting values of b vary between 1.14 and 1.46 (see legend). (D) Annual exceedance probability for tectonic events before 2009 (gray) and predicted behavior based on different values of p and b in 2017 (orange) and 2025 (blue). The values used in the study of L&Z are shown as solid blue and orange curves.

  • Fig. 2 Trends in earthquake numbers are largely uncorrelated from trends in cumulative seismic moment, suggesting a different behavior of seismicity rates of small-magnitude versus large-magnitude events.

    (A) Cumulative seismic moment (red) and cumulative earthquake number above M = 3 (black) with earthquakes M ≥ 5 highlighted by black arrows and vertical dashed lines. The inset shows a map of the study region and earthquake locations. W.O., western Oklahoma; C.O., central Oklahoma; (B) Injection (Inj.) (blue) and seismicity rates (red) in central Oklahoma as well as the triggering threshold (blue dashed line) for induced seismicity in the study of L&Z. None of the M ≥ 5 events occurred at times when injection rates exceeded the triggering threshold even when accounting for the proposed time delay (green lines) by L&Z. (C) Same as (B) for the western Oklahoma region.