Induced earthquakes in Texas: Should we be concerned?
Presented By: Dr. Patricia Clayton - Assistant Professor at University of Texas at Austin
This presentation will discuss recent research efforts at the University of Texas at Austin investigating the vulnerability of Texas infrastructure to natural and induced earthquakes. The foci of the studies, based on research projects funded by the Texas Department of Transportation and by state and industry partners through TexNet and the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research, include assessing vulnerability of highway bridge structures and masonry veneers to induced earthquakes. The presentation will provide an overview of induced seismic hazards and their potential for causing damage. We will also discuss how, or even if, structural engineers should consider induced seismicity in design.
The rate of seismicity in parts of the Central U.S., namely Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, has increased dramatically in recent years—increasing from an average historical rate of three earthquakes of greater than magnitude 3 per year, to approximately 12 per year since 2008. Numerous studies have linked the increase in seismicity to wastewater injection and other activities associated with oil and gas production, hence they are referred to as induced earthquakes.
Damage from these events, particularly larger magnitude events such as the 2011 M5.7 Prague, OK and 2016 M5.8 Pawnee, OK earthquake, have resulted in millions of dollars of insurance claims and class action lawsuits against oil and gas companies. Much of the reported damage has been to masonry chimneys and veneers on residential buildings. While parts of Oklahoma have felt the largest effects of induced seismicity, a series of earthquakes in 2008 near an injection well in the Dallas-Fort Worth region prompted concerns about the potential impacts of induced earthquakes in Texas.
Damage to residential buildings from recent earthquakes in Oklahoma
Tricia Clayton got her B.S. in civil engineering from North Carolina State University. She attended University of Washington for her Masters and PhD in civil engineering, where her graduate research was on a new self-centering lateral force-resisting system for enhanced seismic resilience. As a PhD student, she served as a visiting researcher at the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering in Taiwan, where she conducted full-scale hybrid testing of this new lateral force-resisting system. She has been an Assistant Professor at University of Texas at Austin since 2014. Her research interests include design and behavior of steel structures, performance-based earthquake engineering, and seismic risk assessment.