Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become a common practice in United States oil fields for enhancing their productivity. Among the concerns regarding fracking, however, is the possibility that it could trigger shallow earthquakes. The brine that results from fracking is injected into the subsurface for disposal. This brine causes a pore pressure gradient that is commonly believed to trigger failure along critically stressed subsurface faults. In Timpson, a small city in eastern Texas, earthquakes have become much more common since two injection wells were installed in 2007. 16 events of M_W > 2 have been detected since 2008 and are believed to be associated with failure along a subsurface fault. Applying interferometric synthetic aperture radar, we analyzed 3 sets of SAR images from the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) from May 2007 to December 2010. Using these data sets, XX interferograms were generated. From these interferograms, it was possible to determine the spatial and temporal evolution of the crustal deformation in the line-of-sight of the satellite. The results show strong evidence of uplift in the region adjacent to the injection wells. While previous studies have established a strong connection between fluid injection and increased seismicity, this is to our knowledge the first observed case of crustal deformation that has been observed as a result of hydraulic fracturing fluid disposal.
- Using InSAR to Investigate Injection-Induced Deformation and Seismicity in Timpson, Texas
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