Hydraulic fracturing injects millions of gallons of water into oil and gas containing geologic formations deep underground.
Scientific and government research indicates that fracking can cause earthquakes in two ways:
- Primarily, during the fracking process: "[Earthquakes] were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults."
- Secondarily, via the disposal of fracking wastewater via underground injection.
These aren't just small quakes
Although fracturing-related earthquakes are chronic, they were thought to be minor. But new research is showing that they can be quite large and damaging. The focus of the study, a 5.7 magnitude quake near Prague, Oklahoma, damaged 14 homes and other structures in the area.
States are ignoring the issue
Despite the increasingly apparent threat posed by fracking-related earthquakes, many states are ignoring the issue:
"Nine months after a National Academy of Sciences panel said oil and gas regulators should take steps to prevent man-made earthquakes, officials in key states are ignoring quake potential as they rewrite their drilling rules."
Find earthquakes near you
The USGS tracks all earthquakes (man-made and natural) and makes that information readily available here.
For more information:
Picture of damage from Oklahoma earthquake by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.
Earthquakes caused by fracking
- British Columbia Oil & Gas Commission: Investigation of Observed Seismicity in the Horn River Basin, August 2012
- CBC Fracking causes minor earthquakes, B.C. regulator says
- British Geological Survey: Fracking and Earthquake Hazard
- Cuadrilla Resources: Geomechanical Study of Bowland Shale Seismicity, 2011.
- Schlumberger Seismicity in the Oil Field
Earthquakes caused by fracking wastewater injection
- Science Injection-Induced Earthquakes 2013.
- National Academy of Sciences: Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies, 2012.
- The Earth Institute Columbia University Wastewater Injection Spurred Biggest Earthquake Yet, Says Study
- Journal of Geology Potentially induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA: Links between wastewater injection and the 2011 Mw 5.7 earthquake Abstract Article
- Capitol Confidential Tkaczyk, Avella question DEC’s seismic work
- Mother Jones Fracking's Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms