Ground Water Canada

Features Mapping Research
Geoscience BC uses well data to expand earthquake research in northeast B.C.

May 15, 2019  By Ground Water Canada

Vancouver – Geoscience BC has launched a new project to assess the potential amplification of ground movement associated with earthquakes generated by hydraulic fracturing and fluid injection in an area around Fort St. John and Dawson Creek in northeast British Columbia.

The new study will detail to findings for a larger area completed earlier in 2019.

The project addresses public concerns relating to seismicity and oil and gas industry activity in northeastern B.C., especially in areas close to communities and infrastructure, Geoscience BC said in a news release. It will examine how seismic waves from earthquakes can potentially be amplified in specific shallow geological conditions.


“Most recent studies in this area have focussed on the reduction of ground motion as you get further from the seismic event,” said lead researcher Patrick Monahan. “But seismic ground motions can also be amplified significantly on sites underlain by certain sediments, compared to sites on bedrock or firm ground.” New earth science information generated by the project, which will focus in more detail on a smaller area than the recently completed project, will be publicly available and will be particularly useful for regulators and industry operators managing petroleum industry activity to identify areas which may have an increased likelihood of felt events due to local surface conditions.”

Researchers will collect data from petroleum industry wells, water wells and geotechnical boreholes to prepare a new geological map that will more accurately define the surficial map unit boundaries and reflect the thickness variations in the deposits that are susceptible to amplification, Monahan said.

“The new science generated by this project will help us better understand which areas have the potential of increased ground motion during induced seismicity events associated with natural gas extraction,” Geoscience BC executive vice-president and chief scientific officer Carlos Salas. “The information can be used by industry, regulators, communities in the Peace River Regional District and Indigenous groups to improve industry procedures to manage felt events.”

Monahan and Geoscience BC staff will host an open house on May 29 in Dawson Creek, B.C., to explain the project and answer questions. 

The organization is a not-for-profit society incorporated under the BC Societies Act that collaborates with resource sectors, academia, communities, Indigenous groups and government to develop and share unbiased earth science research and data.

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