The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that seven earthquakes occurred in central Oklahoma over a mere 14-hour period this past weekend. The area where the earthquakes occurred just happens to be where the state’s fracking and wastewater wells are concentrated.
The earthquakes’ intensities ranged from magnitude 2.6 to 4.3, which actually caused physical ground trembling, occurred across a 30-mile stretch of land northeast of Oklahoma City. Concentrated mostly in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, where the quakes occurred, there are over 35 Class II underground injection wells. These Class II wells are also called brine disposal wells, which drain chemical-laden fracking wastewater deep into the earth’s crust.
Studies have linked deep injection wells and wastewater disposal associated with fracking operations to the increased influx of earthquake occurrences in areas where quakes were otherwise rare.
According to the USGS, the increased frequency of earthquakes coincides with underground wastewater injection, noting that the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern United States have increased considerably in recent years. The USGS reported that “more than 300 earthquakes above 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.”
According to a study released in Science magazine this month, the state of Oklahoma has experienced over 2,500 earthquakes in the last five years, surpassing California as the most seismically active state in the country.
The increasing seismic activity correlates with increasing fracking operations in the state. Geoscientists believe that the earthquakes occur because the large amounts of wastewater pumped into the ground put stress on naturally occurring underground fault lines, thus triggering seismic activity.
This is the price we are paying for big business and an addiction to harmful fossil fuels. The harvesting of fossil fuels is damaging the earth, the use of which is burning the atmosphere and warming the planet.