Oklahoma Earthquakes Caused By Fracking, Study Says

A study released on July 4 by the journal Science claims that the swarm of earthquakes taking place in Oklahoma in recent years is directly caused by hydraulic fracking taking place across the plains state.

One of the study’s authors spoke with Nature magazine about the situation in Oklahoma and called it “unprecedented.”

“‘It really is unprecedented to have this many earthquakes over a broad region like this,’ says study co-author Geoffrey Abers of Cornell University. ‘Most big sequences of earthquakes that we see are either a main shock and a lot of aftershocks or it might be right at the middle of a volcano in a volcanic system or geothermal system. So you might see little swarms but nothing really this distributed and this persistent.'”

The article in Nature said that scientists have been aware of the risks associated with hydraulic fracking since at least the 1960s, later adding that seismologists with the Oklahoma Geological Survey are starting to come to similar conclusions on the causes of earthquakes in the region, which The Raw Story said have increased by 22,900 percent since 2008. From Nature:

“Seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, who was not involved in the study, says there could be a large number of factors playing into the quakes. But like the authors of the new paper, he, too, has found evidence linking the Oklahoma quakes specifically to oil and gas activity. ‘We certainly do have a contribution from oil and gas, but the question is how much, how extensive is this and how is this occurring,’ he says. ‘This study will certainly help improve our understanding in the scientific discussion of what is occurring in Oklahoma.'”

The Los Angeles Times, which noted that Oklahoma is currently the second-most seismically active state behind California, said research points to a group of four fracking wells in Oklahoma’s capital city are responsible for one swarm of quakes in the city of Jones, Oklahoma.

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“The Jones swarm, named for a small town east of Oklahoma City, included more than 100 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater during that five-year period. The four wells dispose of more than 4 million barrels of fluid monthly.”

It remains to be seen what, if anything, could be done in Oklahoma to deal with the fracking if the studies prove to be true considering the vast amount of oil and gas jobs held across the Sooner state. An NPR report said nearly 25 percent of all jobs in the state are tied to the oil and natural gas industry.

The study comes as Oklahoma is still under an advisory for potentially large earthquakes in coming months and years, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]