Fracking and Earthquakes – not in Texas

According to an NBC News story, a study on human-induced earthquakes published today in Science, shows within the central and eastern United States, more than 300 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater were recorded from 2010 through 2012, compared to an average rate of 21 earthquakes per year from 1967 to 2000.

The hydrolic fracturing (fracking) technique used to produce natural gas and oil involves shooting several million gallons of water laced with chemicals and sand deep underground to break apart chunks of shale rock, freeing trapped gas to escape through cracks and fissures into wells has been linked to human-induced earthquakes, however this process produces earthquakes that are almost all too small to be felt — and the fracking industry is quick to use this fact to say fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes. Nevertheless, larger earthquakes are associated with injection of wastewater into underground wells, a technique used to dispose of the briny, polluted water that comes to the surface after a frack job is completed and a well is producing natural gas and oil, so one might say the industry is a bit too literal, since these activities would not occur if fracking wasn’t occurring.

Click here to read the NBC story.

In Texas, which has seen a dramatic increase in fracking activities in the Barnett and Eagle Ford shale regions, a recent quake registered a 4.8 in May of 2013 near Timpson, TX which sits in the drilling area of the Haynesville Shale.

According to an NPR StateImpact story, researchers have known for decades that disposal wells can cause quakes, but state regulators say they are waiting for more proof. The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates oil and gas drilling in Texas, is currently considering updated rules for disposal wells in the state, but it says it has no plans to include consideration of man-made earthquakes in that rule making. Click here to read the NPR story.

This begins to make sense when you see that 3% of the Flat Earth Society‘s membership is from Texas.