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Is Fracking Causing Earthquakes?

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Cleveland, OHA recent earthquake in Ohio has experts debating whether activities related to hydraulic fracking for natural gas, which involves high-pressure liquid injection, may be the cause.

On New Year's Eve a 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of approximately 2 miles. As a result, Ohio's Department of Natural Resources suspended operations at five deep well sites in Youngstown, Ohio, where high pressure water injection was taking place. The wells will remain closed while they evaluate the seismological data.

According to a report by Reuters, Won-Young Kim, a research professor of Seismology Geology and Tectonophysics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, who has been hired by the state to review the data, believes that the there is circumstantial evidence to suggest a link "between the earthquake and the high-pressure well activity."

"We know the depth (of the quake on Saturday) is two miles and that is different from a natural earthquake," said Kim. Reportedly, data collected in November from 4 seismographs in the area confirm that an association between the water pressure at the well and the quakes. Kim also said that this is not the first time tremors related to human activity have been reported in that state. "We have several examples of earthquakes from deep well disposal in the past," Kim said.

Hydraulic fracturing has also drawn flack from environmentalists and people living near drilling operations who allege that their well water has subsequently become contaminated and made people sick, and it has also been linked to cancer.

Fracking has potential risks nationwide, but is centered in the Marcellus Shale, a 95,000-square-mile layer of thick black rock that holds a vast reservoir of gas. This natural gas-rich sediment stretches from New York through Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and is often referred to as the nation’s largest source of natural gas. The gas reservoir beneath the Marcellus Shale encompasses not only Pennsylvania, but seven other states.

In 2009, almost 500,000 natural-gas wells were active in the US, about double the number from 1990. According to the drilling industry, around 90 percent have used hydrofracking to get more gas flowing. Five confirmed states (possibly more), Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, have found gas seeping into underground drinking-water supplies and residents have blamed natural-gas drilling.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
Everyone is concearned with earthquakes from fracking. What about damages to your home? Since D&L Energy put a gas well in back of my home, I have had cracking walls, weakening floors, and a once bone dry basement , full of cracks in the floor. A year ago I had to install a sump pump after having 8 inches of water in my basement- that had seeped up through the cracks! Also found out I had a lot of water accumilating under my foundation. Just discovered a weak spot in the concrete by my cellar door. I never had any of these problems before the gas well was put in.

Posted by

on
Finally, we are hitting on what may potentially be one of the causes of our recently worldly earthquakes. It's time for us to wake up and smell the coffee. How long does it take for a well to run dry when there is no rain water replensighing it? It seems that we as society for many years have been taking "rainwater" out of the well but have never found ways to replenish it. I agree with Linda E. Ballard below. All that is driving what may become a lethal weapon for our world is the Corporate Greed. There is no concern for our world, our people. As as long as corporate america and the Oil Monguls continue to think of themselves and their families as opposed to others and their childrens future it will NEVER change. It's time we get together as a people and fight this to the end. Especially when we have no one representing OUR best interest where it matters. So if they won't do it for us, then the reality is that "WE MUST DO IT FOR US." Won't you join me in gathering petitions on line or off line (in writing) and forward to your state governor. Our PA Governor is all for Marcellus Shale. It's up to us to make a differnce for OUR CHILDREN, OUR GRAND CHILDREN, AND THEIR GRANDCHILDEN.
I am still trying to understand how it is that we are in a recession and have been for some time, but how is it possible that people are driving less. Price of gas has gone up yet the OIL COMPANIES were able to report BILLION Dollar Profits, their seems to be no justification for that. The checks and balances of this just doesn't add up???? What your opinion, we'd like to know! Power to the People!!! It's OUR TIME!!! It's OUR TIME TO FIGHT!!

Posted by

on
It would seem to me, not an expert, common sense would tell us that there is something very wrong regardless of the terminology of "Fracking", it is making people sick and the mere possibility this may cause earthquakes deserves extreme caution. I see the water being contaminated in Reeves County, Texas and North Dakota and figure it is the same everywhere there is injecting "fracking". Most people have no idea what it is, but I do and I think it is not worth the possible harm to my grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc...if there is any earth left after Corporate greed has left mother earth a barron wasteland. The fact is the water is being contaminated and no one is stepping up to take responsibility. Best be safe than sorry. It would not hurt if everyone would conserve our natural resources and SLOW Down! Take the Keys away from Jr. and give him a bycycle. Maybe you should consider a bycycle also. We elder folks need to show the youngsters how to do it. Quit justifying such ignorent acts by making excuses and blaming others. We can not keep on this fast lane indefinately and things will only continue to get worse as the world population increases to the point there is not enough food for me and you. Better to be safe than sorry. Underground injection of fluids is what happens to the toxic waste from fracking elsewhere, but in the same area as the aforementioned FRACKING! as far as I can see. Take everything you can get today and do not think about anyone else as long as you get yours! I say consideration should be voluntary and some close their eyes as long as they are still on the take and hold their breath until all the natural resources are gone. Leave something for our children's future.

Posted by

on
Your article is typical of those of recent days that are bent on tying every social ill to hydraulic fracturing. The fact of the matter is that the well near the epicenter of the New Year's Eve quake was an injection well. The injection of fluids into that particular well was not the part of any "hydraulic fracturing" process. Some of the fluids injected into the disposal well may have been the by-product of the fracking process in some newly drilled well either counties or a state away, but there was no "fracking" going on at the site. It is disingenuous for you to use two separate processes as synonyms for one another, i.e. underground injection of fluids and hydraulic fracturing of newly-drilled wells.

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