Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?

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A question that keeps coming up at BC-ESP schools and libraries, and at Weston Observatory is:

Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?

Here is a lecture by Bill Ellsworth of the US Geological Survey that we found to be is an excellent summary of the situation: “Injection-Induced Seismicity” –

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/seminars/2013-12-02/

And here’s Professor Kafka’s own summary of the story –
http://akafka.wordpress.com/

Summary of Professor Kafka’s summary:

“Short and simple answer: Yes.
Longer answer: But, it’s complicated…”

 

oklahoma_fracking_quake

Weston Observatory/BC-ESP seismogram of magnitude 5.6 earthquake that occurred in Oklahoma on November 6, 2011. This earthquake is likely related to injection of highly pressurized wastewater (from oil extraction operations) into wells. It was big enough to cause injuries and damage more than a dozen homes.

 

Most earthquakes associated with fracking operations have been smaller than magnitude 3. But a few larger and damaging earthquakes are suspected of having been induced by the injection of wastewater from natural gas (and also oil production) operations. On this seismogram, you can see the Weston Observatory recording of the magnitude 5.6 earthquake that occurred in Oklahoma and is suspected of having been induced by injection of wastewater from oil extraction. Although that earthquake has not been directly linked to fracking, the injection of wastewater from oil extraction is essentially the same process as what occurs in fracking operations.

(Click on seismogram to enlarge.)

 

 

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