Organic Universe

Organic Universe
Please bookmark our new site!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stunning increase in earthquake activity in Oklahoma linked to oil and gas drilling

In this Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011 file photo, Chad
Devereaux works at cleaning up the bricks that
fell from three sides of his in-laws' home in
Sparks, Okla., after two earthquakes hit the
area in less than 24 hours. | Junw 20, 2014 | Polly Mosendz / The Wire

Between 1978 and 2008, Oklahoma had just two earthquakes with a magnitude over 3.0. In 2014, thus far, there have been around 200 such earthquakes there, more even than the highly unstable state of California. (They've had 140.) Experts believe the unusual increase in earthquakes is linked to the number of wastewater wells connected to oil and gas drilling.

Wastewater wells occur when oil and gas companies inject wastewater deep underground. Scientists believe that the wastewater acts as a lubricant in existing fault lines, causing more movement. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, has also been linked to earthquakes, though the majority of Oklahoma's tremors were caused by wastewater wells.

Wastewater well
The USGS and Oklahoma officials are adding monitor stations to best determine which wastewater wells are causing the earthquake issue. There are currently 15 permanent stations and 17 temporary stations.

Thus far, none of the earthquakes in Oklahoma have caused major damage. However, USGS geophysicist Rob Williams believes it is only a matter of time, "Given the rate of earthquakes over the last six months, it's concerning enough to be worried about a larger, damaging earthquake happening, let alone what might happen in the future."

No comments:

Post a Comment