Study Suggests Fracking Activity Induced Earthquakes

A recently published study finds that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activity triggered numerous earthquakes in Ohio in March 2014. According to the study, published online this month by The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), the fracking activities did not create a new fault, but rather activated a fault that was previously unknown. The study, “Earthquakes Induced by Hydraulic Fracturing in Poland Township, Ohio” was authored by Robert J. Skoumal, Michael R. Brudzinski, and Brian S. Currie affiliated with Miami University of Ohio.

The published Abstract of the study states that the authors identified 77 earthquakes in Poland Township, Mahoning County, Ohio, “that were closely related spatially and temporally to active hydraulic fracturing operations.” According to the Abstract, those events “all occurred from 4 to 12 March 2014, and the rate decayed once the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued a shutdown of hydraulic fracturing at a nearby well on 10 March.” “Considering the relatively large magnitude of the Poland Township events” the study’s Abstract continues, “it appears the hydraulic fracturing induced slip along a pre‐existing fault/fracture zone optimally oriented in the regional stress field.”

The new study follows several other reports about fracking possibly being linked to seismic activity in Ohio such as the October 2014 NBC News report, an April 2014 International Business Times report, and a January 2012 Scientific American report. Discovery.com also recently published a piece titled “Could Fracking Cause a Major Earthquake?”

The BSSA’s press release about the study can be found here. The study will be published in print in the February/March issue of BSSA.