A New Study Offers Further Proof That North Texas Earthquakes Are Drilling- and Fracking-Related
by Dan Solomon (Texas Monthly) In January 2015, there were a dozen little earthquakes in the Dallas–Fort Worth area in less than 48 hours. They weren’t the first, or the last, that would strike the region, either. Prior to 2008, there had been no reported earthquakes in the Fort Worth Basin. In the ten years since, there’ve been hundreds.
The biggest geological difference in North Texas in the years since 2008 has been the amount of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling going on in the area. Both processes, which allow access to oil further below the surface, are often followed by wastewater injection into underground formations through injection wells, which has been known for decades to cause earthquakes—a 1990 study from the Environmental Protection Agency makes that clear—but the fact that there’s a causal relationship between fluid injection and earthquakes doesn’t necessarily mean that every earthquake that happens in a drilling- and fracking-intensive area is automatically the result of fracking and drilling.
That’s what the Texas Railroad Commission—which regulates the oil and gas industry—has pointed to in the past. The Dallas Morning News reported on the agency’s approach to fracking last year….
When the U.S. Geological Survey—a federal agency whose responsibilities includes studying earthquakes—categorized the North Texas quakes since 2008 as man-made back in September, a Railroad Commission spokesperson told the Morning News that it hadn’t yet had a chance to review the studies that led to that conclusion.
As of this week, they’ll need to take one more study under advisement. According to a landmark study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, the earthquakes in North Texas have been occurring in faults that, geologically, are considered “dead.”
According to SMU seismologist Beatrice Magnani, who was the lead author of the paper, there hadn’t been activity along those faults for 300 million years. READ MORE
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