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Frackquakes

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The geologically stable state of Oklahoma has experienced over 500 measurable earthquakes in 2014, far and away already a record for the state and it is February. Why? Fracking, duh.

Scientists have drawn links between earthquakes and wastewater injection wells used for oil and gas production, including fracking. Researchers say the toxic wastewater, stored thousands of feet underground, increases friction along fault lines, which can trigger earthquakes. The ongoing fracking boom has led to a growth in national demand for disposal wells, according to Bloomberg.

Nicholas van der Elst, a post-doctorate research fellow at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, says the “most reasonable hypothesis” to explain Oklahoma’s spike in earthquakes is they’ve been triggered by injection wells used for oil and gas production. “The burden of proof is on well operators to prove that the earthquakes are not caused by their wells,” van der Elst told The Nation.

A 2011 study, published in the journal Geology, found that liquid injection triggered a sequence of earthquakes in Oklahoma, including the largest quake ever recorded in the state, which injured two people and destroyed 14 homes. StateImpact reports that Oklahoma is home to more than 4,400 disposal wells. (The website is a great resource on this issue.) Researchers have also found connections between injection wells and earthquakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Texas and Ohio.

But you know, let’s just continue down this path of endless fracking without making sure it is actually safe.

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  • Thom

    Great news. As a Californian living in Texas, I miss earthquakes. Now can we just get rid of tornadoes? (not a big threat in Austin, but enough to scare me).

  • connections between injection wells and earthquakes in Arkansas

    Wonder how close they’re working to the New Madrid Fault? “Oops, we broke Memphis!”

    • Schadenboner

      …And nothing of value was lost!

      • Since my soon to be ex-wife now lives there, I concur.

        … Srsly tho, I’ve been waiting for Memphis to collapse for 30 years now. Tho if my niece goes to Rhodes, I hope it hangs on another 4 years before the fault snaps again.

      • John Revolta

        There’s some pretty good BBQ in Memphis………

        I mean, not KC good, but still……….

        • Steve in the ATL

          Beef is not BBQ

  • calling all toasters

    What’s wrong with earthquakes? Quakes -> disaster relief funds -> handouts to GOP allies -> more GOP power -> fewer regulations -> more fracking -> more quakes. It’s the circle of governance, USA, 2014.

  • Calming Influence
  • wengler

    I would like to think knowing these things would change behavior, but I know better.

    • ThrottleJockey

      I’m willing to bet good moola that that folks of Oklahoma don’t even care…but time will tell.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        they care, probably, but they do the math in their heads and figure it’s worth it to keep the gas flowing

      • wengler

        I grew up in Oklahoma and I can tell you that ‘God’s judgment’ is likely to be a much more popular argument than fracking. It’s not that people are dumb there, it’s just that the crazy religious people have a lot more power, and their dual mandate of ruining free public education and spreading ignorance is a powerful force.

  • Warren Terra

    This is excellent news for those of us living in California! Because of The Law Of Conservation Of Earthquakes, the quakes in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania make me safer!

  • efgoldman

    As Professor Pierce asks very day: What could go wrong?

  • DK2

    …toxic wastewater, stored thousands of feet underground, increases friction along fault lines, which can trigger earthquakes

    I think the author meant to say decreases friction, which would cause more quakes to occur. (If I remember my long-ago geography lessons).

  • DrDick

    I lived in Oklahoma for 35 years, in the same areas now plagued by quakes, and cannot ever remember an earthquake there during that time.

  • Frackquake! Sounds like a movie on SyFy.

    We need to work sharks in there somehow.

    • MAJeff

      Rising ocean levels will help.

      • Calming Influence

        Frackocolypse!

        • calling all toasters

          Fracknado on a Plane.

          • Schadenboner

            I’m tired of all these motherfucking quakes in my motherfucking natural gas field!

            (Then stop fracking you assholes…)

            • Say “frack” ONE MORE TIME MOTHERFUCKER.

  • Ken

    Just because this only started happening after they began using the wells, doesn’t mean it was caused by the wells. It might be just a coincidence, like cigarettes and lung cancer.

  • GiT

    No, only God can cause earthquakes.

  • Barfbag

    Probably because of niggers.

  • DCA

    That injecting fluids can cause earthquakes is clear, the question is, under what conditions? It doesn’t always, or even routinely,happen. Note that there is no fracking in Oklahoma, but lots of recent earthquakes from fluid injection for other purposes, while Pennsylvania has lots of fracking but no earthquakes, yet.

  • advocatethis

    Well, mystery solved. I was looking at the world disaster map the other day and what stood out as odd was an earthquake in Oklahoma…just as what stands out as odd right now, amid a cluster of earthquakes in the Sierra Nevada and near Geyserville, is an earthquake in Arkansas.

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