December 4, 2012

Two studies link earthquakes to fracking

Think Progress - Two new papers tie a recent increase in significant earthquakes to reinjection of wastewater fluids from unconventional oil and gas drilling. The first study notes “significant earthquakes are increasingly occurring within the United States midcontinent.” In the specific case of Oklahoma, a Magnitude “5.7 earthquake and a prolific sequence of related events … were likely triggered by fluid injection.”

The second study, of the Raton Basin of Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico by a U.S. Geological Survey team, concludes ”the majority, if not all of the earthquakes since August 2001 have been triggered by the deep injection of wastewater related to the production of natural gas from the coal-bed methane field here.”

Both studies are being presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

These studies, together with other recent findings, make a strong case that we need national regulations on wastewater injection to prevent induced earthquakes.

1 comment: said...

An article in Geotimes (a professional geological journal) in the 1960s describes similar findings as the result of the high pressure injection of hazardous liquids from the Army's Rocky Mountain Arsenal. When the pressure was high there were earthquakes that rattled the metropolitan Denver area. When the pressure was low or zero there were no measurable earthquakes.

Why must we keep relearning? What a waste of time and resources. Regulators need to follow their instincts. Maybe they are understaffed!