Home Science Environment Two New Studies Suggest Fracking Is to Blame for Small Earthquakes

Two New Studies Suggest Fracking Is to Blame for Small Earthquakes

Oklahoma is suffering from earthquakes, which are becoming more frequent.

Two recent studies suggest fracking is to blame for these earthquakes.

The two studies say that the wastewater from the oil and gas production that is injected back into the ground is the cause of these quakes.

According to IFL Science, Science journalist Alexandra Witze said these studies “provide the strongest evidence yet that oil and gas companies have caused a rash of earthquakes.”

Fracking earthquakes, and the costs of “cheap” oil:

The first study that was published in Science said: “Many of these earthquakes have been documented as induced by wastewater injection. We examine the relationship between wastewater injection and U.S. mid-continent seismicity using a newly assembled injection well database for the central and eastern United States.

“We find that the entire increase in earthquake rate is associated with fluid injection wells. High-rate injection wells (>300,000 barrels per month) are much more likely to be associated with earthquakes than lower-rate wells. Managing injection rates may be a useful tool to minimize the likelihood of induced earthquakes.”

Weingarten of CU-Boulder’s geological sciences department said in a statement: “This is the first study to look at correlations between injection wells and earthquakes on a broad, nearly national scale.”

“We saw an enormous increase in earthquakes associated with these high-rate injection wells, especially since 2009, and we think the evidence is convincing that the earthquakes we are seeing near injection sites are induced by oil and gas activity,” he added.

Fracking wastewater wells linked to earthquakes:

The second study that was published in Science Advances said: “In three study areas that encompass the vast majority of the recent seismicity, we show that the increases in seismicity follow 5- to 10-fold increases in the rates of saltwater disposal. In the areas of seismic activity, the saltwater disposal principally comes from ‘produced’ water, saline pore water that is coproduced with oil, and then injected into deeper sedimentary formations.

“These formations appear to be in hydraulic communication with potentially active faults in crystalline basement, where nearly all the earthquakes are occurring. Although most of the recent earthquakes have posed little danger to the public, the possibility of triggering damaging earthquakes on potentially active basement faults cannot be discounted.”

Professor Mark Zoback, the author from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, said in a statement: “What we’ve learned in this study is that the fluid injection responsible for most of the recent quakes in Oklahoma is due to production and subsequent injection of massive amounts of wastewater, and is unrelated to hydraulic fracturing.”

“We know that some of the produced water came from wells that were hydraulically fractured, but in the three areas of most seismicity, over 95 percent of the wastewater disposal is produced water, not hydraulic fracturing flowback water,” he added.

PhD student Rall Walsh, the co-author, said: “The earthquakes in Oklahoma would have happened eventually, but by injecting water into the faults and pressurizing them, we’ve advanced the clock and made them occur today.”

“You can easily imagine that if a fault wasn’t located directly beneath a well, but several miles away, it would take time for the fluid pressure to propagate,” Walsh added.

Fox host called a liar, his reaction is pure fracking fun:

The evidence seems to be mounting against the industry. How much proof is needed before the government realizes the problem and makes real changes.

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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