Study Links Ohio Earthquakes to Fracking Waste Water Injection SitesAug 20, 2013
Earthquakes occurring where they have never before been recorded are a strong sign that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling is to blame.
A new study on the topic of fracking-related earthquakes has found a direct link between the two, according to a report from Engineering & Technology Magazine. The report details a new study appearing in Geophysical Research-Solid Earth that examines the recent spate of earthquakes and tremors near Youngstown, Ohio.
Youngstown had never felt an earthquake in the more than two centuries that records had been kept there. Then, the practice of injecting waste water from natural gas fracking wells into its own underground injection wells began. That’s when the tremors started near Youngstown, the researchers noted in their study.
We’ve been reporting on the dangers of earthquakes caused by the fracking process for several years — and more so recently. Most often, earthquakes linked to fracking activity are nearest to the underground injection wells used to dispose of the briny waste water created during the fracking process. As this mixture is shot into the underground injection wells, the consistency of the fluid is able to wear away at the rock, which causes the tremors when underground rock moves.
The recent study found at least 109 measurable tremors at one Youngstown site starting in January 2011. That same area had never felt an earthquake since data started being recorded in 1776, according to Engineering & Technology Magazine. A New Year’s Eve 2011 earthquake was the largest on record, measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale. That injection well site is known as Northstar 1.
Earthquakes began 13 days after the Northstar 1 site was opened for fracking waste water from Pennsylvania wells. The study notes that they stopped soon after Ohio environmental regulators ordered the Northstar 1 well to be turned off at the end of December 2011. The study also found links between a drop in earthquake activity and times throughout the calendar year in 2011 when fracking waste water stopped coming into the well site, mostly on holidays, according to Engineering & Technology Magazine.
Existing fault lines underground were exacerbated by the nature of fracking waste water and researchers for Geophysical Research-Solid Earth noted that the “earthquakes were centered in the subsurface faults near the injection well.”