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Introducing ground motions into induced seismicity management in BC

March 25, 2022
Ottawa, ON

Nanometrics is working with British Columbia’s Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society to explore enhancements to induced seismicity management protocols in the Kiskatinaw Area

The new research initiative examines the integration of ground motions into induced seismicity risk management practices in the Kiskatinaw Area of Northeast British Columbia. The research will help to refine the existing regulatory protocols by establishing a link between sizes of induced events and their impact on local population and critical infrastructure.

Most induced seismicity regulations aim to limit the sizes of induced events using traffic-light protocols, which are defined in terms of staged magnitude thresholds. These protocols are implemented in near real-time against seismicity observed by a local monitoring network, allowing operators to adjust their activities if the magnitude of the induced earthquakes exceed, or tend to exceed, the thresholds.

As a measure of earthquake size, magnitude is correlated with the radiated seismic energy at the source. However, magnitude alone does not provide a complete picture of a seismic event in terms of its impact on the ground surface. Two events with the same magnitude can result in very different ground shaking at a given site. Ground motions resulting from a seismic event provide a more direct measure of seismic hazard and so risks associated with nuisance and potential damage.

The Nanometrics Engineering Seismology team will conduct comprehensive research involving the derivation of a specific ground motion model for induced earthquakes in the Kiskatinaw area that captures the regional seismological characteristics. Through the development of scenario shake maps based on the ground motion model, the team will provide insight into the potential hazards that induced seismicity could pose on the local population and critical facilities near the areas of operation.

The Kiskatinaw Seismic Monitoring and Mitigation Area (KSMMA) is an active region in the Canadian Oil and Gas industry and exhibits relatively high susceptibility to induced seismicity, with numerous felt events reported by local residents. A M4.5 earthquake was occurred in November 2018 requiring an operational shut down in accordance with the BCOGC’s traffic light protocol for the area.

“We are thrilled to once again be working with BC OGRIS and local operators to help provide a more complete picture of the potential impact of induced seismicity and ensure the continued, responsible operation in the area.” Said Dr. Emrah Yenier, Engineering Seismology Program Lead. “The ground motion model developed in this project will enable regulators and operators to effectively manage induced seismic risks through the assessment of potential hazard for future operations near the susceptible faults in the Kiskatinaw area.”

The research project runs until January 2023. Stay tuned to learn more about the results of this exciting research initiative.

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The BC Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society (BC OGRIS) is a stand-alone organization which focuses on addressing knowledge gaps to inform environmental, operational and health and safety policy and industry practices related to oil and gas exploration and development in BC.