Public Lecture and Panel Discussion: Fracking and Earthquakes

Fracking and earthquakes: a cause for concern? Public lecture and panel discussion, Thursday, September 10, 2015.

Thursday, September 10, 2015, 7:30 pm
Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences Building
CCIS 1-430

The recent earthquakes in Fox Creek, Alberta have been linked to hydrofracturing (or "fracking"), which is a method used to extract oil and gas from shale rock. Following an introductory talk by the IGR Distinguished Lecturer, Cliff Frolich of the University of Texas at Austin, a panel of experts from government, industry and academia will take questions from the audience and discuss whether the ongoing development and expansion of hydrofracturing might pose a hazard to surrounding communities by the earthquakes they might create.  An informal opportunity to talk individually with the panellists will follow.

Open to the public.
Free admission. RSVP through Eventbrite.

Schedule of Events

7:30 to 8:30 pm - Lecture

IGR Distinguished Lecturer Cliff Frohlich

8:30 to 9:00 pm - Open Panel Discussion

Cliff Frohlich
Associate Director, Institute for Geophysics
Senior Research Scientist, Jackson School of Geosciences
University of Texas at Austin

Jeff Gu
Associate Professor, Geophysics
University of Alberta

Mirko van der Baan
Professor, Geophysics
University of Alberta

Todd Shipman
Landscapes and Geological Hazards Manager
Alberta Energy Regulators, Alberta Geological Survey

Kellen Foreman
Group Lead, Regulatory and Government Relations
Encana Corporation

9:00 to 10:00 pm - Reception

A hosted reception will take place in the PCL Lounge outside the lecture theatre following the open panel discussion.


About the Panellists

Cliff Frohlich, Institute for Geophysics of the University of Texas at AustinCliff Frohlich received his PhD from the Department of Physics at Cornell University in 1976, analyzing seismicity in the Tonga-Kermadec island arc as the focus of his dissertation. Since 1978 he has been at the Institute for Geophysics of the University of Texas at Austin, where he presently is Associate Director and a Senior Research Scientist, both non-faculty titles. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications on diverse subjects including deep earthquakes, earthquake statistics, injection-induced earthquakes, tectonics, earthquakes and animal behavior, moonquakes, tsunamis, and the physics of sports. He is coauthor of the semi-popular monograph, “Texas Earthquakes,” published by University of Texas Press in 2002, and author of Deep Earthquakes, published by Cambridge University Press in 2006. In 2008, he was an IRIS-SSA Distinguished Lecturer. Presently he serves on the U.S. National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (NEPEC), a U.S. government-mandated committee tasked with evaluating earthquake predictions and earthquake prediction methodology. In the 1990s, Cliff published three papers on human-caused earthquakes, but it was a minor sideline of his research program. After a sequence of 10 felt earthquakes occurred in Dallas-Fort Worth beginning on Halloween, 2008, Cliff collaborated with scientists at Southern Methodist University to investigate these events, and found they were induced by injection of fluids into a nearby waste disposal well. This sequence initiated the current renaissance of interest in human-caused earthquakes as a research topic. Subsequently, induced earthquakes have occupied almost all of Cliff’s attention, and he has published more than 15 papers on them in peer-reviewed journals. Because of his Dallas-Fort Worth 1990s work, he was deemed an “expert” in an emerging field, and thus has been asked to testify before numerous governmental committees formed to investigate induced earthquakes, including several convened by the U.S. National Research Council.


Jeffrey Gu, University of AlbertaJeff Gu received his PhD. Degree in geophysics at Harvard University in 2001, mainly concentrating on seismic imaging and tomography of the Earth’s mantle.  Between 2002 and 2004, he studied seismic anisotropy and oceanic lithosphere structure as a Lamont-Dorherty Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University.  Since joining the University of Alberta in 2004, Jeff has mainly focused on the analyses of crust and mantle seismic structures, regional seismicity and induced earthquakes.  His group is mainly responsible for the first Alberta-based broadband seismic network (the Canadian Rockies and Alberta Network, CRANE), which began in 2006 and is now jointly sponsored by the University of Alberta and the Alberta Geological Survey. This network played a major role in the development of the first Alberta Earthquake Catalogue published by AGS in 2011. 


Mirko van der Baan, University of AlbertaMirko van der Baan is a professor at the University of Alberta in the Department of Physics, specializing in Exploration Seismology. He graduated in 1996 from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, obtained a PhD with honors in 1999 from the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, and then joined the University of Leeds, UK, where he became the Reader of Exploration Seismology. He also holds an HDR (Habilitation) from University Denis Diderot, Paris, France. Mirko is the Principal Investigator of the joint-industry projects on Blind Identification of Seismic Signals, focusing on advanced statistical signal processing and technology/knowledge transfer to the hydrocarbon industry; and the Microseismic Industry Consortium, a collaborative venture with the University of Calgary, dedicated to research in microseismicity. He is also a co-founder of the Centre of Integrated Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences, a joint initiative of several departments at the University of Leeds, UK, to foster and promote multidisciplinary petroleum-related research and teaching. Finally, he is one of the founding members of the Integrated Petroleum Geosciences (IPG) professional MSc program at the University of Alberta. He is a member of the editorial board of Geophysics and the Research Committee of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.


Todd Shipman, Alberta Geological SurveyTodd Shipman has a Masters degree in Geology from Northern Arizona University 1999 and a PhD from the University of Arizona in Geoscience 2004. Todd worked at the Arizona Geological Survey until 2009, where he developed the first earth fissure monitoring program for the State of Arizona. In 2010, he started work at the Alberta Geological Survey, where he became manager of the Landscapes and Geohazards Group. Todd was one of the authors of Subsurface Order #2 and currently manages the group that operates the RAVEN seismic network.



Kellen Foreman, EncanaKellen Foreman has 15 years of experience practicing as an engineer in the upstream oil and gas industry. Prior to becoming a Senior Manager of Regulatory and Government Relations at Encana, Kellen first started out gaining valuable field experience that later served him well as a Production, Completion and Drilling Engineer. Over the last five years, he has spent a great deal of time working to advance industry policy and regulatory issues on a number of broad topics covering the fiscal, operational and environmental aspects of the oil and gas business.  In that time, Kellen has also had the fortune of participating in a one-year secondement at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), gaining valuable experience and creating contacts with various governments, regulators and academia that have served him well. Kellen has a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan and is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta.



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