New Study Maps Earthquake Potential in the Permian Basin

February 9, 2018


Now that the Permian Basin is the hottest site for well drilling in the world, scientists at Stanford University have developed a new map of the ground stresses found in the 75,000 square mile Permian Basin and have been calculating the likelihood of potential oil and gas developments that could trigger an earthquake by use of fluid injection.

A color-coded map was produced as part of the research published in the journal  The Leading Edge  from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

“We want to get out ahead of the problem in Texas,” said study co-author Mark Zoback told Science Daily in describing the reason for the study.

The Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences said, “We want to stop fluid injection from triggering even small earthquakes in Texas so that the probability of larger earthquakes is significantly reduced.”

The geophysicists built on previous maps of faultlines and stress potential in the Permian and added extensive new data, which paint a complex picture of the ground stresses in the basin, which one geophysicist said has the potential for “a lot of earthquakes” because of the dramatic variations in rock and soil in the Permian region.

The Stanford School of Earth has also been working on extensive maps of Oklahoma to chart earthquake potential.