A magnitude 4.0 earthquake recorded northeast of Amarillo on October 20th has seismologists asking an increasingly familiar question: was the earthquake a result of naturally occurring shifts in fault systems? Or, was it induced by oil and gas activities in the region?
Earthquakes are not new to the Texas Panhandle. The region has a history of both natural and likely induced earthquakes dating back to the early 1900s. As far back as the 1930s, some scientists and seismologists believed that oil and gas extraction may have played a role in increased seismic activity in the area.
More recently, researchers analyzing earthquake data in the Panhandle region are finding evidence that some earthquakes could be induced by one or more oil and gas activities, including oil and gas extraction, wastewater injection or less frequently hydraulic fracturing activities.
And, according to data analyzed by EnergyMakers Advisory Group’s Laura Capper, regions prone to natural seismicity are also more likely to have exposure to induced seismic events, particularly when multiple oilfield activities are taking place concurrently.
Researchers are quick to point out that more detailed analysis is required before any given earthquake’s source—natural tectonics or oil/gas extraction—can be pinpointed with accuracy.Data-on-Demand, Earthquake, EnergyMakers Advisory Group, Industry Risk Report, Texas