Fracking Eyed in British Columbia Earthquake SpikeOct 4, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
A spike in earthquake activity in part of the Canadian province of British Columbia has many worried that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is behind the tremblors. The concern has prompted the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission to launch a probe of seismic activity in its Horn River Basin, an area in the far northeast corner of the province.
According to the Calgary Herald, the Horn River Basin is an area of high natural gas activity. Prior to 2009, no earthquake had ever been recorded there. Since 2009, however, 31 earthquakes, ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 in magnitude, have been recorded. The quakes are strong enough to be felt, but have caused no damage.
John Clague, a geologist at Simon Fraser University, told the Calgary Herald that he believes the earthquakes are the result of hydraulic fracturing, either due to fracking itself, or because of the high pressure injection of fracking waste water into underground reservoirs.
The Oil and Gas Commission, however, was quick to point out that it has not definitively linked fracking to any of the quakes.
This isn't a new phenomenon. Recently, Arkansas recorded an increase in earthquakes, and even had the largest tremor recorded in the state in 30 years. Most of the earthquakes - 90 percent of - seen in the state since 2009 have occurred within six kilometers of underground salt water disposal sites associated with fracking operations. Earlier this year, those disposal sites where shut down because of the earthquake fears.
Similar concerns have arisen in West Virginia and Texas in recent years