National Academy of Sciences of the
United States of America
Gas injection may have triggered earthquakes in the
Cogdell oil field, Texas
October 4, 2013 - Between 2006 and 2011 a series of earthquakes occurred in the
Cogdell oil field near Snyder, TX.
A previous series of earthquakes occurring 1975–1982 was
attributed to the injection of water into wells to enhance oil
We evaluated injection and extraction of oil, water, and gas
in the Cogdell field. Water injection cannot explain the 2006–2011
However, since 2004 significant volumes of gas including CO2
have been injected into Cogdell wells.
If this triggered the 2006–2011 seismicity, this represents
an instance where gas injection has triggered earthquakes having
magnitudes 3 and larger.
Understanding when gas injection triggers earthquakes will
help evaluate risks associated with large-scale carbon capture and
storage as a strategy for managing climate change.
Between 1957 and 1982, water flooding was conducted to improve
petroleum production in the Cogdell oil field north of Snyder, TX,
and a contemporary analysis concluded this induced earthquakes that
occurred between 1975 and 1982.
The National Earthquake Information Center detected no
further activity between 1983 and 2005, but between 2006 and 2011
reported 18 earthquakes having magnitudes 3 and greater.
To investigate these earthquakes, we analyzed data recorded
by six temporary seismograph stations deployed by the USArray
program, and identified 93 well-recorded earthquakes occurring
between March 2009 and December 2010.
Relocation with a double-difference method shows that most
earthquakes occurred within several northeast–southwest-trending
linear clusters, with trends corresponding to nodal planes of
regional focal mechanisms, possibly indicating the presence of
previously unidentified faults.
We have evaluated data concerning injection and extraction
of oil, water, and gas in the Cogdell field.
Water injection cannot explain the 2006–2011 earthquakes,
especially as net volumes (injection minus extraction) are
significantly less than in the 1957–1982 period.
However, since 2004 significant volumes of gases including
supercritical CO2 have been injected into the Cogdell field.
The timing of gas injection suggests it may have contributed
to triggering the recent seismic activity. If so, this represents an
instance where gas injection has triggered earthquakes having
magnitudes 3 and larger.
Further modeling studies may help evaluate recent assertions
suggesting significant risks accompany large-scale carbon capture
and storage as a strategy for managing climate change.
Wei Gana,b and
Edited by Donald W. Forsyth, Brown University, Providence, RI, and
approved October 4, 2013 (received for review June 13, 2013)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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