Hydraulic Fracking and Earthquakes?

Does Hydraulic Fracturing Trigger Earthquakes?

Here’s a quote from the article entitled as above –

English: Hanging wall vs Foot wall - faults ar...

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While the presence of a fault line in this region of the United States can be an apt explanation for the 5.6 magnitude Oklahoma earthquake, what about the sudden rise in seismic activity here? Between 1972 to 2008, an average of 2-6 earthquakes were recorded in the state of Oklahoma every year. In 2009, the number of earthquakes recorded reached 50, and further increased to a whopping 1047 in 2010. One cannot ignore the fact that more than a thousand drilling wells and more than a hundred injection wells have cropped up in this region over the course of time. Back in August itself, the region experienced a series of tremors, all ranging between the magnitude of 1 and 2.5, and now the 5.6 magnitude quake. While environmentalists are citing the link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes to oppose such projects, those in this business refute these allegations as baseless.

Does Hydraulic Fracturing Trigger Earthquakes?

Does hydraulic fracturing cause earthquakes? From what I have read so far, it would appear possible that fracking may have a lot to do with small earthquakes and may cause thousands of tiny almost insignificant earthquakes.

Having grown up in Oklahoma, I can’t help but recall that there was virtually never an earthquake. However, that they are much more common now is weak evidence that hydraulic fracking is the cause. If there is a pattern of fracking related earthquakes we will soon have measurable data. Both earthquakes and hydraulic fracking are trackable by geography, and patterns, if forming, should become visible.

Let us consider, however, what the effect of thousands of small quakes will be in a state like Oklahoma. What will the effects be? Generally they will be imperceptible one at a time. It seems to me though that bridges, roads and large concrete and stone structures are likely to take damage as the small insults multiply. How much damage? I have no idea. California has many small earthquakes a year. Maybe they have some data.

One thing is clear. Fracking should have been studied in depth before any large amount was done. There should now be continuous studies and a large tax laid upon the industry to finance both studies and regulation.

James Pilant

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