EARTHWORKS

Fracking-related Earthquakes

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Homeowner Joseph Reneau, third from left, shows friends the damage caused to his home's family room after the chimney toppled onto the roof. A 5.7 earthquake caused extensive damage to the two-story ranch-style home of Joseph and Mary Reneau near the community of Sparks in Lincoln County, OK. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

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:

  1. Primarily, during the fracking process: "[Earthquakes] were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults."
  2. Secondarily, via the disposal of fracking wastewater via underground injection.

And that is being borne out by increased earthquakes in shale plays where oil and gas development is occurring, like Texas and Ohio.

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.

Earthworks Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing Fact Sheet

Earthquakes caused by fracking

Earthquakes caused by fracking wastewater injection

Tagged with: fracking, earthquakes

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