Raton Basin Induced Seismicity Is Hosted by Networks of Short Basement Faults and Mimics Tectonic Earthquake Statistics

M. Glasgow, B. Schmandt, R. Wang, M. Zhang, S. L. Bilek, E. Kiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Raton Basin has been an area of injection induced seismicity for the past two decades. Previously, the reactivated fault zone structures and spatiotemporal response of seismicity to evolving injection have been poorly constrained due to sparse publicly available seismic monitoring. The application of a machine-learning phase picker to 4 years of continuous seismic data from a local array enables the detection and location of ∼38,000 earthquakes. The events from 2016 to 2020 are ∼2.5–6 km below sea level and range from ML < −1 to 4.2. Most earthquakes occur within previously identified ∼N-S zones of seismicity, however our new catalog illuminates that these zones are composed of many short faults with variable orientations. The two most active zones, the Vermejo Park and Tercio zones, are potentially linked by small intermediate faults. In total, we find ∼60 short (<3 km long) basement faults with strikes from WNW to NNE. Faulting mechanisms are predominantly normal but some variability, including reverse dip-slip and oblique-slip, is observed. The Trinidad fault zone, which previously hosted a Mw 5.3 earthquake in 2011, is quiescent during 2016–2020, likely in response to both slow accumulation of tectonic strain after the 2011 sequence, and the significant decrease (80% reduction) in nearby wastewater injection from 2012 to 2016. Unlike some other regions, where induced seismicity was triggered in response to higher injection rates, the Raton Basin's frequency-magnitude and spatiotemporal statistics are not distinguishable from tectonic seismicity. The similarity suggests that seismicity in the Raton Basin is predominantly releasing tectonic stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JB022839
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • earthquake catalog
  • induced seismicity
  • machine learning
  • wastewater injection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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