The explosion of fracking’s presence in Oklahoma has had adverse effects on the geological makeup of the land. This past Tuesday, the state of Oklahoma experienced 20 fracking-related earthquakes within a single day.
Since the late 2000s, fracking wells have been constructed all over the state of Oklahoma, leaving hundreds of natural gas operations to destroy the land and create, otherwise nonexistent, seismic activity. The largest of the 20 earthquakes was at a 4.3 magnitude, and several other registered at least a 3.0 magnitude.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been reporting on the increased frequency of fracking-induced seismic activity. Before 2008, the state of Oklahoma would only experience one earthquake a year at the most. Since that year, when fracking operations began springing up, the state has been experiencing hundreds every year, beating out California as the most seismically-active state in the country.
Researchers at Cornell University and the USGS determined that chemical-laden wastewater will deposit into the earth’s sediment, creating pressure which triggers seismic activity. Collectively, Oklahoma’s fracking wells spew 5 million barrels of wastewater a month.
“These really big wells have the biggest impacts on the system,” said Columbia University researcher Geoffrey Abers. “The earthquakes themselves seem to occur on small discrete faults. As the pressure builds up in the sedimentary formation that they are pumped into . . . They put that fault over the edge by jacking up pose pressure.”
In the last five years, there have been 2,500 earthquakes that have occurred in Oklahoma. According to the USGS, “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.”
Despite the obvious effect that fracking has on the environment and people’s health, the world’s deadly addiction to fossil fuels shows no sign of slowing. Federal lawmakers have been of no help in tightly regulating these oil and gas businesses, leaving them free to operate without regard to the damage the companies cause.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.