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Induced earthquake and liquefaction hazards in Oklahoma, USA: Constraints from InSAR

October 1, 2018

Oklahoma experienced three earthquakes of Mw5.0 or greater in 2016: the 13-Feb. Fairview earthquake (Mw5.1), the 03-Sep. Pawnee earthquake (Mw5.8), and the 07-Nov. Cushing earthquake (Mw5.0). These events are the first earthquakes in the state exceeding Mw5.0 since the 2011 Mw5.7 Prague earthquake and likely result from wide-scale deep fluid-injection. We use interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) observations to quantify the magnitude and location of surface deformation associated with these three events, determine the depth ranges of fault slip, and assess the spatial relationship between fault slip and well-calibrated mainshock and aftershock locations. We also include newly reported, calibrated event locations for the Cushing earthquake. We find that the Pawnee earthquake ruptured within the crystalline basement with the shallowest slip occurring at depths of 3.1–4.3 km. We find a similar, though shallower, crystalline basement source for the Cushing earthquake with a minimum depth to slip of 1.6–2.3 km. Despite the smaller magnitude of the Cushing earthquake, it generated anomalously high ground motions and damage compared to the larger Pawnee and Fairview earthquakes. We postulate that the shallow source of the Cushing earthquakes provides one explanation for the higher than expected ground motions. The Fairview earthquake generated no detectable co-seismic displacements, which is consistent with a relatively deep earthquake source (~8.5 km). We do, however, identify a 16 km stretch of floodplain where widespread liquefaction occurred in response to the Fairview earthquake, and where 30 gas production wells were exposed to surface displacements exceeding 5 cm. Consequently, the depth to crystalline basement, which limits the depth of injection-induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, and the potential for liquefaction are important factors in assessing shaking risk in the central United States.

Publication Year 2018
Title Induced earthquake and liquefaction hazards in Oklahoma, USA: Constraints from InSAR
DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2018.09.005
Authors William D. Barnhart, William L. Yeck, Daniel E. McNamara
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing of Environment
Index ID 70199829
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center