“A remarkable increase in the rate of M 3 and greater earthquakes is currently in progress in the U.S. midcontinent. The average number of M >= 3 earthquakes/year increased starting in 2001, culminating in a six-fold increase over 20th century levels in 2011.”-USGS study, Are Seismicity Rate Changes in the Midcontinent Natural or Manmade?
Around the beginning of January 2012, officials from the U.S. Geological Survey testified to Ohio state officials, that the fracking going on in their state was the cause of a sudden string of earthquakes.
In July 2011, the state of Arkansas banned fracking for the same reasons.
Now a new study by USGS geologists, published by Seismological Society of America (SSA), confirms that “…the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade…”, due to “…oil and gas production.”
The study will be discussed in more detail at a meeting from April 17-19.
USGS scientists point out that the area of increased quake activity is not normal for that part of the United States: “A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is unprecedented outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock, of which there were neither in this region.”
The abstract details of the study also say: “The modest increase that began in 2001 is due to increased seismicity in the coal bed methane field of the Raton Basin along the Colorado-New Mexico border west of Trinidad, CO. The acceleration in activity that began in 2009 appears to involve a combination of source regions of oil and gas production, including the Guy, Arkansas region, and in central and southern Oklahoma.”
But this is not the only recent study published by the SSA to link oil production with earthquakes. Another report linked the April 2010 Alice, Texas earthquake to oil production in the Stratton field: “We conclude it is plausible, although not proven definitively, that production in the Stratton field contributed to the occurrence of the 2010 Alice earthquake and an earlier similar earthquake that occurred on 24 March 1997.”
So far most of the quakes are taking place in areas that don’t normally have much seismic activity, but California has plenty of earthquakes, and there’s a lot of oil and gas drilling, including fracking, going on there!
“On the one hand, the Division [California agency regulating petroleum industry] remains in denial about fracking for oil. On the other hand, they ask for and receive funding to regulate it and then don’t do it, and have no plans to do it [‘it’ as in ‘regulate’].”-Bill Allayaud, Environmental Working Group