Fracking one “probable cause” of South Texas earthquakes

A new study to be published in the October issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, suggest that taking oil and water out of the ground from South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale is triggering small tremors in the area.

The research, however, doesn’t provide conclusive evidence that hydraulic fracturing is causing earthquakes all by itself, reports The Wall Street Journal.  But it does poses the idea that small quakes in South Texas are largely linked to the upswing in the production of oil and brackish water that flows up alongside hydrocarbons.

The news comes on the heels of another study implying a link between fracking and the recent wave of earthquakes that has hit Ohio.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, fracking can cause tiny “micro earthquakes” that are rarely felt on the surface. The process of disposing of the wastewater, though, can trigger slightly larger quakes when water is pumped near an already stressed fault, even one that hasn’t moved in millions of years.

Only some of the 30,000 injection wells across the US have been suspected of causing earthquakes in recent years, has said the institution.

The US Environmental Protection Agency currently has no regulations relating to earthquakes and disposal wells – known as Class II wells – but the agency began working on a report addressing the issue in the wake of a spike in quakes in the central and eastern United States.

In a November 2012 draft report, the EPA said it was studying “injection-induced seismicity” in central Arkansas; north Texas; Braxton County, West Virginia; and Youngstown, Ohio.

The agency’s report obtained by EnergyWire through a Freedom of Information Act, recommended scaling back on how much well owners can inject, requiring more data collection or public education about “the complexities of injection-induced seismicity.”

However EPA has insisted it was a “technical report” as opposed to a policy blueprint and “is still under development.”


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