By TONI ELLINGTON
The U.S. government released a preliminary report on April 24, 2015, linking increases in earthquake activity in eight states to an increase in the number of wastewater injection wells. The federal report was released a day after the Oklahoma Geological Survey issued a report which reached similar conclusions.
The preliminary federal report, issued by the U.S. Geological Survey (“USGS”), was based on a study of increases in seismic activity in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. In these states, crude oil production rates have increased approximately 75% since 2000, and natural gas production rates have increased approximately 35% in the same time frame.
According to the report, as pressure builds along fault lines in the earth due to the injection of billions of gallons of wastewater generated from oil and gas production, earthquake activity is triggered. According to Mark Peterson, who headed up the USGS National Seismic Hazard Modeling Project, “These earthquakes are occurring at a higher rate than ever before and pose a much greater risk to people living nearby.”
The report offers the first assessment of how man-made earthquakes have increased in these states where oil and gas activity is booming. The report was based on data about earthquake rates, locations, maximum magnitudes, and ground motions.
The USGS intends to expend this research to western states where oil and gas activity has increased.
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