loading page

Nearest-Neighbour Distance Analysis of Induced and Natural Seismicity within the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin
  • Sidhanth Kothari,
  • Robert Shcherbakov,
  • Gail Atkinson
Sidhanth Kothari
Western University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Robert Shcherbakov
University of Western Ontario
Author Profile
Gail Atkinson
University of Western Ontario
Author Profile


Over the past decade, parts of western Canada have seen a rise in clustered seismic activity coinciding with the growing use of a hydrocarbon reservoir stimulation technique known as hydraulic fracturing. This recent upsurge has the potential to increase the local seismic hazard, particularly in affected areas characterized by a sparser tectonic environment. It is therefore critically important to assess and characterize the space, time and magnitude distributions of induced earthquakes from a statistical standpoint, in order to develop a better understanding of triggering processes and improve forecasting models. In this study, the nearest-neighbour distance method was used to analyze the distribution of space-time inter-event distances across the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin from a regional perspective. Additionally, the epidemic type aftershock sequence model and the Gutenberg-Richter relation were used to compare the structuring and magnitude scaling of several seismic clusters induced by different human operations. The results demonstrate that a transformation in the regional distribution of inter-earthquake distances occurred after 2009, where an emergent subpopulation of abnormally tightly clustered events became distinguishable from both natural and prior-induced seismicity. Several distinctions were also revealed between earthquake clusters occurring near different anthropogenic operations, including a higher proportion of tightly clustered events near hydraulic fracturing treatments which were largely swarm-like in nature.