Three Years of Doing ISM in Western Canada: What have we learned?

Dario Baturan

Dario Baturan
Nanometrics Inc.

Monday, January 23rd, 2017 – 11:30 AM
Calgary Petroleum Club, Devonian Room (+15 Level), 319 5 Ave SW


Earthquakes can be induced by human activities such as mining, reservoir or dam impoundment, geothermal reservoir stimulation, wastewater injection, hydraulic fracturing or CO2 sequestration. Such events are predominantly small in magnitude, and are rarely felt locally or detected regionally. However, 16 induced earthquakes of magnitude M3.5 or larger have been recorded in north-eastern British Columbia and western Alberta since 2013. As a result, regulators in both provinces have mandated monitoring of seismicity in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal operations in order to mitigate risks associated with induced seismicity.

A number of private and shared seismic arrays have been deployed in response to these regulations, and existing public networks have been densified to better understand the attributes of induced seismicity. This has resulted in an unprecedented volume of seismic data obtained in the region. The generated seismic data have been used by operators and researchers to assist in identification of geological structures, understanding of the correlation between operational parameters and observed seismicity, investigation of source attributes of induced earthquakes, and derivation of regional attenuation relationships required for accurate magnitude calculations and seismic hazard estimates. The findings of such studies can be used to guide operators and regulators in accurately assessing the risks associated with induced seismicity and developing effective risk mitigation strategies.

In this talk, I present insights gained from three years of doing induced seismic monitoring (ISM) in western Canada, and results of the research done with ISM-generated seismic data. First, I discuss the benefits of high-quality ISM data sets and how their value largely depends on appropriate instrument selection, sound seismic network design and data processing techniques. Using examples from recent research studies, I illustrate the key role of robust modeling of regional source, attenuation and site attributes on the accuracy of reported event magnitudes, ground motion estimation and induced seismicity hazard assessment. Finally, acknowledging that the ultimate goal of ISM networks is in assisting operators to manage induced seismic risk, I share some examples of how ISM data products can be potentially used to measure the effectiveness of implemented risk mitigation protocols.


Dario Baturan has led mission-critical seismology projects worldwide for over a decade, from Saudi Arabia to Alaska, developing expertise in design, deployment, operation and support of seismicity monitoring solutions for academic researchers, governments, the United Nations and oil and gas operators. Dario is currently the Director of Technical Operations for Nanometrics’ Oil & Gas Division, leading a number of teams responsible for seismic network operation, scientific research, geophysical data analysis and field operations. Dario has a BEng in Computer Systems Engineering from Carleton University.