Magnitude and nucleation time of the 2017 Pohang Earthquake point to its predictable artificial triggering

Serge A. Shapiro, Kwang Hee Kim, Jin Han Ree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A damaging Mw5.5 earthquake occurred at Pohang, South Korea, in 2017, after stimulating an enhanced geothermal system by borehole fluid injections. The earthquake was likely triggered by these operations. Current approaches for predicting maximum induced earthquake magnitude (Mmax) consider the volume of the injected fluid as the main controlling factor. However, these approaches are unsuccessful in predicting earthquakes, such as the Pohang one. Here we analyse the case histories of induced earthquakes, and find that Mmax scales with the logarithm of the elapsed time from the beginning of the fluid injection to the earthquake occurrence. This is also the case for the Pohang Earthquake. Its significant probability was predictable. These results validate an alternative to predicting Mmax. It is to monitor the exceedance probability of an assumed Mmax in real time by monitoring the seismogenic index, a quantity that characterizes the intensity of the fluid-induced seismicity per unit injected volume.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6397
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the GSK and the sponsors of the PHASE consortium research project of Freie Universitaet Berlin for supporting the research presented in this paper. This work was also supported partly by the Nuclear Safety Research Program through the Korea Foundation of Nuclear Safety (KoFONS) using financial resources granted by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) of the Republic of Korea (No. 1705010) and by the Korean Meteorological Administration Research Development Program (Grant No. KMI2018-02810).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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