Tech Hosts Workshop On Oil Field Earthquakes

SOCORRO, N.M. July 30, 2014 – New Mexico Tech is hosting a workshop that will address the relationship between petroleum drilling and earthquakes, or “induced seismicity.”

The event will feature a series of guest speakers and will be Thursday, August 21, in the third floor ballrooms of the Fidel Center on campus in Socorro.

Over the past few decades, scientists have been examining the relationship between unconventional oil production – specifically hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), saline water disposal – and the increasing number of small to moderate earthquakes in the surrounding areas. Several studies have examined the timing and location of seismic activity in Arkansas, Ohio, New Mexico and other states.

“A growing number of Earth scientists are looking at the relationship between oil exploration and seismic activity,” said Dr. Van Romero, Vice President of Research at New Mexico Tech. “With this workshop, we hope to place New Mexico Tech researchers at the forefront of the discussions about the topic.”

Romero will open the day-long event with a welcome to all participants. Hydrology professor Dr. Mark Person of New Mexico Tech is coordinating the event.

He said, “This is becoming a more important topic in recent years since the advent of horizontal drilling, coupled with fracking. If we can get a firm handle on the mechanisms of induced seismicity, hopefully we can also make these practices safer.”

Guest speakers include the following:

    • Dr. Mark Person, New Mexico Tech – “Induced Seismicity events in the Midcontinent U.S.A.: Common Geologic Features”
    • Dr. Sharad Kelkar, Los Alamos National Lab, “Downward Migration of Injection Induced Seismicity Driven by Buoyancy Forces”
    • Dr. David Dempsey, Los Alamos National Lab, “Thermo-hydro-mechanical Modeling of Induced Seismicity Triggers and Mitigation Strategies”
    • Dr. Sue Bilek, New Mexico Tech, “Seismic Monitoring of Induced Seismic Events”
    • Dr. Austin Holland and Dr. Randy Keller, Oklahoma Geological Survey, “Oklahoma Seismicity and Potential Cases of Induced Seismicity”
    • Dr. Reid Grigg and Dr. Bob Balch, New Mexico Tech, “Induced Seismicity in Paradise Valley, Utah”
    • Ron Broadhead, New Mexico Bureau of Geology, “New Mexico Induced Seismicity”
    • Dr. Peter Mozley, New Mexico Tech, “Geological Controls on Injection-Related Reactivation of Basement Faults”

The workshop is free and open to the public.  To register, please email Gina Chavez at gchavez@admin.nmt.edu.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech