Ken Silverstein, Contributor
Shale oil and shale gas development is helping give new life to parts of the country. But it could also be helping to do something more nefarious — contribute to smaller earthquakes by discharging millions of tons of wastewater that had been used to drill.
That’s according to research recently presented at the Seismological Society of America annual meeting by the U.S. Geological Survey. It says that water that is leftover after “fracking” must get flushed back down. That is adding stress to existing faults and increasing the reach of where tremors can occur, which can be as much as 31 miles from the epicenter and which can happen at a magnitude of 5.0 that is greater than previously thought, at 3.0.
“Our results, using seismology and hydrogeology, show a strong link between a small number of wells and earthquakes migrating up to 50 kilometers away,” says Katie Keranen, an assistant professor of geophysics at Cornell University, who has studied seismic activity in Oklahoma since 2008. MORE