Saturday, September 25, 2021
84.9 F
Fort Worth

USGS: 7 small Oklahoma earthquakes could have fracking connection

🕐 2 min read

GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded seven small earthquakes shaking central Oklahoma in a span of about 14 hours.

The temblors are part of 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, and especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Sunday’s quakes ranged from magnitude 2.6 to 2.9 and were centered in the Guthrie, Jones and Langston areas, 15 miles to 30 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The USGS said the quakes were recorded between 7:57 p.m. Saturday and 9:51 a.m. Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported.

Those follow four other quakes, including a 4.3-magnitude temblor near Langston recorded shortly after noon Saturday. The other Saturday morning quakes ranged in magnitude from 2.9 to 3.2.

Seismologists know that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — which involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations to free oil and gas — can cause microquakes that are rarely strong enough to register on monitoring equipment.

However, fracking also generates vast amounts of wastewater, which is pumped into injection wells thousands of feet underground. Scientists wonder whether they 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 in Edmond, and many urged regulators to ban or severely restrict the disposal wells.

Austin Holland, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said at the time that the state is experiencing unprecedented earthquake activity and his agency is closely monitoring it to determine whether the earthquakes are a natural phenomenon or are man-made.

Holland also said the same drilling methods have been used in the state for years but that frequent earthquakes did not become a problem until after 2009.

 

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Related Articles

Our Digital Sponsors

Latest Articles

Not ready to subscribe?

Try a few articles on us.

Enter your email address and we will give you access to three articles a month, to give us a try. You also get an opportunity to receive our newsletter with stories of the day.

Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date with the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in the Fort Worth.

  • Restaurants
  • Technology
  • and more!

FWBP Morning Brief

FWBP 5@5

Weekend Newsletter

  • Banking & Finance
  • Culture
  • Real Estate