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Pore pressure threshold and fault slip potential for induced earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of north central Texas

August 2, 2021

Earthquakes were induced in the Fort Worth Basin from 2008 through 2020 by increase in pore pressure from injection of oilfield wastewater (SWD). In this region and elsewhere, a missing link in understanding the mechanics of causation has been a lack of comprehensive models of pore pressure evolution (ΔPp) from SWD. We integrate detailed earthquake catalogs, ΔPp, and probabilistic fault slip potential (FSP) and find that faults near large-scale SWD operations became unstable early, when ΔPp reached ∼0.31 MPa and FSP reached 0.24. Faults farther from SWD became unstable later, when FSP reached 0.17 and at much smaller ΔPp. Earthquake sequences reactivated with mean ΔPp of ∼0.05 MPa. The response of faults shows strong variability, with many remaining stable at higher ΔPp and few that became seismogenic at smaller changes. As ΔPp spread regionally, an ever-increasing number of faults were impacted and the most sensitive became unstable.

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