Fracking Caused Dallas Quakes: Report

Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 04:10 PM gHale

Three minor earthquakes that hit a Dallas suburb last week will now be the subject of an investigation into whether fracking could have been the culprit that led to the quakes.

While it is easy to jump to conclusions before all the facts are in, the facts are the earthquakes were minor, with the biggest registering 3.4 on the Richter Scale. No one suffered any injuries despite emergency calls.

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One person does believe, though, there is a connection between fracking and the quakes. Cliff Frolich, a senior scientific researcher and associate director at the University of Texas, said there is a relationship.

In a study, Frolich found that 67 earthquakes occurred between November 2009 and December 2011 within a 70-kilometer grid where fracking occurs over the northern Texas Barnett shale formation. Twenty-four of the earthquakes, where he could map the epicenter, occurred within three kilometers of the injection wells for wastewater disposal from fracking.

Fracking is the extractions of shale gas and oil trapped in rock strata beneath the surface. High pressure chemical-laden water pumps into an underground geological formation to force out oil and gas. After fractures have opened up in the rock and the water pressure decreases, the fluids force up to the surface.

The dirty water which is left pumps back into the ground, a process which has led to fears the water table will end up polluted with severe health consequences. Fracking also is a process to extract oil from wells thought to be empty by traditional methods.

California is experiencing similar problems as it is one of the largest oil and gas producing states in the country.

The oil and gas industry launched a campaign in an effort to alleviate concerns of the public and those who oppose fracking. The industry claims fracking is safe and companies have been using the process for decades. Fracking has been going on since the early 1950s, but has taken off in the last seven years. In 2005, the country’s shale gas production was four percent; today it is twenty-four percent.

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