Red-light thresholds for induced seismicity in the UK




Induced Seismicity, hydraulic fracturing, seismic hazard, seismic risk, traffic light protocol, red-light


Induced earthquakes pose a serious hurdle to subsurface energy development. Concerns about induced seismicity led to terminal public opposition of hydraulic fracturing in the UK. Traffic light protocols (TLPs) are typically used to manage these risks, with the red-light designed as the last-possible stopping-point before exceeding a risk tolerance.  We simulate trailing earthquake scenarios for the UK, focusing on three risk metrics: nuisance, damage, and local personal risk (LPR) – the likelihood of building collapse fatality for an individual.  The severity of these risks can spatially vary (by orders-of-magnitude), depending on exposure.  Estimated risks from the Preston New Road earthquakes are used to calibrate our UK earthquake risk tolerances, which we find to be comparable to Albertan (Canadian) tolerances.  We find that nuisance and damage concerns supersede those from fatality and that the safest regions for Bowland Shale development would be along the east coast.  A retrospective comparison of our TLP result with the Preston New Road case highlights the importance of red-light thresholds that adapt to new information.  Overall, our findings provide recommendations for red-light thresholds (ML 2-2.5) and proactive management of induced seismicity – regardless of anthropogenic source.


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How to Cite

Schultz, R., Baptie, B., Edwards, B., & Wiemer, S. (2023). Red-light thresholds for induced seismicity in the UK. Seismica, 2(2).