Microseismic User Group (MUG)

Don’t poke the bear: The quest to understand induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing

David Eaton

David Eaton
Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary

Thursday, June 28th, 2018 – 12:00 PM MST
Nexen Plus 15 Conference Centre located in the Nexen Annex Building

Unless the capacity is exceeded, we will not respond to your email. Attendance is free, just bring along your lunch.

RSVP NOW for the next Microseismic User Group (MUG) event.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Paige Mamer, Paige.Mamer@tgs.com,
Johnny Wentzel, Johnny.Wentzel@esgsolutions.com


Induced seismicity caused by hydraulic fracturing has galvanized public attention - arguably to a significantly greater extent than other anthropogenic triggering mechanisms such as enhanced oil recovery or impoundment of surface water reservoirs. Although it is estimated that regionally detectable earthquakes are triggered by ~0.3% of hydraulic-fracturing operations, events up to MW 4.6 have prompted the introduction of new regulatory measures for risk management. Regulators in western Canada are global leaders in the development and ongoing refinement of such measures. These include magnitude-based Traffic Light Protocols (TLPs), which aim to avoid inducing potentially damaging events by restricting or halting completions operations sufficiently early in the earthquake nucleation process, as well as measurement of peak ground acceleration to characterize ground-motion relationships, as a predictive tool for quantifying felt effects. Induced earthquakes are thought to occur on pre-existing faults that are critically stressed (i.e. prone to failure in response to a small perturbation in stress state); yet anecdotal experience indicates that many faults that can be identified and mapped using classical approaches (e.g. offset reflections evident in 3-D seismic images) are not activated by hydraulic fracturing, whereas structures that have been activated during and after hydraulic fracturing are often characterized by a subtle seismic expression. Furthermore, efforts to quantify induced-seismicity (IS) risk and to develop mitigation strategies are hampered by lack of access to numerical schemes that can accommodate realistic Earth models while capturing the full spectrum of applicable physics. In order to improve the effectiveness of current risk management and mitigation strategies, there are several critical research areas that are ripe for progress:

  1. Identifying, characterizing and mapping critically stressed faults.
  2. Forecasting maximum magnitude of induced events.
  3. Development of a validated computational framework that combines geomechanics, earthquake fault mechanics and reservoir simulation and is calibrated by a wealth of new data.
  4. Understanding the role of aseismic slip on faults.

These research topics are currently subject to vigorous investigation by academic groups across Canada, in collaboration with regulators, other government agencies and industry.


Professor David Eaton holds the NSERC/Chevron Industrial Research Chair in Microseismic System Dynamics in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary. Together with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, his work focuses primarily on advancement of research, education and technological innovations in microseismic methods and their practical applications for resource development, with a secondary focus on the deep lithospheric structure of continents. In 2007, he rejoined the University of Calgary as Head of the Department of Geoscience, after an 11-year academic career at the University of Western Ontario. His postdoctoral research experience included work at Arco’s Research and Technical Services (Plano, Texas) and the Geological Survey of Canada (Ottawa). He has over 140 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books, including articles in Nature and Science, as well as a recently published textbook on Passive Seismic Monitoring of Induced Seismicity.