'Have you been wondering what is causing the recent spate of earthquakes in Oklahoma and the rest of the United States? In an article on PBS NewsHour, researchers warned that these quakes are caused by underground injections of wastewater.
Fracking and other enhanced oil recovery methods create a lot of contaminated water as a byproduct. To prevent the contamination of drinking water supplies, the companies are pumping the dirty water back underground.
The University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) recently conducted a study regarding deep wastewater injection. They knew that earthquakes coincide with these operations. The researchers wanted to know the distances from an injection well at which an earthquake will be triggered.
They found that injections could cause earthquakes as far as six miles (10 kilometers) in the distance. They also reported that the bigger and further earthquakes are caused by injecting water into soft sedimentary rock instead of the harder rock beneath.
Injected water can trigger earthquakes far from the well itself
This information is earthshaking because it can change the management and regulation of the fracking industry. That’s because earthquakes do not necessarily only take place at the site of an injection well.
For decades, experts have known that dumping water into a geologic fault can cause the crack to open up. When the fault slips, an earthquake occurs.
Water injections can cause the earth to shake in other ways. One way is called poroelasticity, where injected water puts pressure on the rock around it. The water deforms the material and forcing the fault to slip.'
Read more: Study: Injecting wastewater deep underground is responsible for the surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma and other regions
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