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Earthquakes in Southwest May Be Caused by Fracking

The US Geological Survey has recorded seven small earthquakes shaking central Oklahoma on July 12 and 13.

There has been an increase in earthquakes across Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas that some scientists say could be connected to the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, and especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.

The quakes ranged from magnitude 2.6 to 4.3 and were centered in the Guthrie, Jones and Langston areas northeast of Oklahoma City.

Seismologists know that fracking — which involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations — can cause microquakes, but the recent tremors are much more powerful and may be caused by injection wells. Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater which is pumped thousands of feet underground. Scientists wonder whether injection wells could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

Another concern is whether injection well operators could be pumping either too much water into the ground or pumping it at exceedingly high pressures.

Hundreds of central Oklahoma residents met with regulators and research geologists last month to urge regulators to ban or severely restrict the disposal wells.

For the complete article in The Guardian, click here.

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