Accelerated Fill-Up of the Arbuckle Group Aquifer and Links to U.S. Midcontinent Seismicity
The Arbuckle Group aquifer is the principal disposal zone for oil and gas field brines and hazardous/nonhazardous wastewater across the U.S. midcontinent and is traditionally viewed as an infinite capacity aquifer. Thousands of wells annually dispose hundreds of millions of barrels of wastewater into the aquifer across Kansas and Oklahoma, but direct links between injection and recent increases in seismicity have been hindered by a lack of pressure data for the Arbuckle Group. Here we present a newly compiled data set for 49 wells across Kansas that provides a unique perspective on the aquifer's performance over two decades. Statistical analysis of falloff test pressures, static fluid levels, and injection volumes shows that Arbuckle pressures and fluid levels are rising, recently at faster rates, likely associated with increased wastewater injection. The new data also suggest that the pressure diffusion, the primary driver of induced seismicity, can reach distances up to 25 km from an injection point and is connected to static fluid level rises. The compiled dataset explains the recent surge in midcontinent seismicity. The data set also suggests that the Arbuckle has finite storage capacity and that wastewater disposal across parts of the midcontinent may soon require alternatives.
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