USGS claim: Recent spike of earthquakes in central, eastern U.S. may be linked to oil, gas wastewater injection

The US Geologic Service reports:

The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years within the central and eastern United States. More than 300 earthquakes above a magnitude 3.0 occurred in the three years from 2010-2012, compared with an average rate of 21 events per year observed from 1967-2000.

This increase in earthquakes prompts two important questions: Are they natural, or man-made? And what should be done in the future as we address the causes and consequences of these events to reduce associated risks? USGS scientists have been analyzing the changes in the rate of earthquakes as well as the likely causes, and they have some answers.

USGS scientists have found that at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose.

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10 thoughts on “USGS claim: Recent spike of earthquakes in central, eastern U.S. may be linked to oil, gas wastewater injection”

  1. It appears the trend changed in 1999. What was changed then that causes the trend to change? Was it new technology?

  2. Folks worried about earthquakes should ask for fracking and the subsequent water injection. Every small quake makes a big one less likely or moves it further into the future..

  3. Ever been in a Richter 3.0 quake? You have to know what you are doing to recognize it, and even then you may get into arguments with people around you about whether it is a quake or not. Richter 3.0 is pretty much a non-event, despite the hype by the USGS – my old employer.

  4. There was an article in our paper today on this. There is a paper in Science looking at an increase in seismic activity over 30 years at a southern California geothermal plant located near the San Andreas fault. The author is attempting to determine the rate of quakes from pumping.

    The actual studies were not very “exciting”. The article noted that not all pumped storage areas have problems and that if they can find out which ones do, they can just avoid those areas.

    Fracking was completely vindicated in the article–saying the larges fracking related quake was 3.6 in 2009. All others are small and not significant.

  5. The new madras fault which is in the area where these quakes are occurring was responsible for the most severe and damaging earth quakes in American History. The quakes lasted for over ten years. Because this happened about 200 years ago, our “experts” feel they can safely ignore it.

  6. Aren’t the renewable folks looking at using underground storage? If we start using caverns to store wind energy, will that do the same? I guess it depends on what you put in the caverns?

  7. What should be done? Nothing, even if they prove without cheating that the quakes are man-made. They are indistinguishable from man-made vibrations caused by a passing truck. Or natural vibrations from a passing elephant.

  8. It could be from all the windmills moving the top surface plate much like an airplane taking off.

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