Oil Production Could Have Caused Century-Old California Earthquakes
by Annie Sneed, October, 2016
Research indicates a connection between large Southern California earthquakes and deep oil and gas well drilling.
Damage caused by the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. Credit: W.L. HUBER, USGS
"The largest—the 1933 Long Beach earthquake—was magnitude 6.4, killed 120 people and caused $50 million in damage (in 1933 dollars). In every case oil and gas companies had drilled the wells more than a thousand meters down, which was unusually deep for that time period."
"Richard Allen, director of the Seismological Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, says “We need to start recognizing that there's a growing body of evidence that oil and gas production activities can generate large-magnitude, damaging earthquakes. And that's something we should all take very seriously.”
This Can't Be Kansas!
It's Official: Injection of Fracking Wastewater Caused Kansas’ Biggest Earthquake
Lorraine Chow, Reporter
A study to be published in Seismological Research Letters next month reports:
"The largest earthquake ever recorded in Kansas—a 4.9 magnitude temblor that struck northeast of Milan on Nov. 12, 2014—has been officially linked to wastewater injection into deep underground wells, according to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)."
SandRidge Energy refused directives from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to shut down or decrease wastewater injection in order to prevent more earthquakes, only agreeing months later.
'Groundbreaking' Study Links Texas Earthquakes to Wastewater Injection From Fracking
"Wastewater not only puts pressure on underground fault lines, causing "induced" earthquakes, but also pushes up the surface of the ground—a phenomenon called "uplifting" that can be seen from space. Read the report here.
The Seismic Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes
"New research presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America (SSA) showed that wastewater disposal wells—deep holes drilled to hold hundreds of millions of gallons of fluid produced by oil and gas wells—is changing the stress on existing faults, inducing earthquakes that wouldn’t have happened otherwise."
In Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio there has been a dramatic increase in earthquakes over the past few years that corresponds with increases in the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Monterey County has 35 wastewater injection wells on top of the notorious San Andreas fault.
Of the factors included in the SSA study: underground disposal of wastewater; development of enhanced geothermal systems; and hydraulic fracturing, wastewater disposal predominates in terms of earthquake size, with magnitudes for a few of the earthquakes exceeding 5.
A study of earthquakes in Ohio concluded that “cooperation among government, industry and the scientific community” to prevent prevent fracking operations in places where there may be known or unknown faults.