The Science is In: Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Posted by Amy Guinan

May 12, 2015 7:00:00 AM

polls_earthquake_gallery_3_3308_623107_poll_xlarge-1-902079-editedIn Denial About Fracking?

Even in states where denial has been the name of the game, policy makers and officials are starting to admit that fracking and earthquakes are linked. This rise in seismic events around the country has the attention of scientists, citizens, policymakers, media and industry and hopefully will potentially lead to tightening of industry regulations. 

Oklahoma:  Case Study

A recent case:  In Oklahoma, the  number of earthquakes over 3.0 magnitude has skyrocketed from an average of less than two a year to 585 quakes in 2014—clustered heavily in areas where drilling operations are disposing of fracking wastewater.  State officials, who had previously denied any link between fracking and earthquakes, have now publicly admitted that the injection into deep underground wells of fluid byproducts from drilling operations is behind the quakes.  

A state-sponsored website titled Earthquakes in Oklahoma has even been put up!  It is billed as a “one-stop source for information on earthquakes in Oklahoma.”

The new website confirms, “The Oklahoma Geological Survey announced the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells.”  Further, the website acknowledges, “There is broad agreement among seismologists that the disposal of water into or in communication with basement rock presents a potential risk for triggering seismicity.”

That’s a big turnaround from recent years in which the state has officially ignored or denied this connection under pressure from the oil and gas industry. 

Seismologists Say...

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says bluntly, “Earthquake activity has sharply increased since 2009 in the central and eastern United States. The increase has been linked to industrial operations that dispose of wastewater by injecting it into deep wells.”

Concerned about fracking and it's impact?  Consider installing solar panels today.

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