The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Ohio is now on a similar trajectory to Oklahoma, which saw a five-fold increase in earthquakes in 2014. A new study published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America has confirmed that a fracking operation near Poland Township in Ohio activated a previously unknown fault in the Earth, causing 77 earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 1.0 to 3.0 between March 4 and March 12 in 2014. The drilling company, Hilcorp Energy, was forced to halt operations by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on March 10 after nearby residents felt the 3.0-magnitude earthquake.
Robert Skoumal, who co-authored the study with Michael Brudzinski and Brian Currie at Miami University of Ohio, compared these earthquakes to well stimulation reports and found the earthquakes "coincided temporally and spatially with hydraulic fracturing at specific stages of the stimulation. The seismic activity outlined a roughly vertical, east-west oriented fault within one kilometer of the well." Fracking at other nearby wells did not produce seismic activity, which suggests that the fault is limited in its scope.
But, if Oklahoma's major increase in earthquakes tells us anything, it's that it could get worse for Ohio if fracking increases. From 1975 to 2008, Oklahoma averaged one to three earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater a year. In 2009, that number jumped to 20. In 2011, the Sooner state experienced its largest recorded quake with a magnitude of 5.7. In 2014, there were 564 quakes with a magnitude of 3 or greater, compared to only 100 in 2013. And 19 of those earthquakes were magnitude 4 or greater, the strength at which experts say significant damage can occur.
In May 2014, the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey reported that "the spike in the number of earthquakes meant it was much more likely that the state could suffer a damaging earthquake of magnitude 5.5 or greater." They also reported that fracking was "likely a contributing factor." The researchers believe Oklahoma's activity is spreading north into Kansas, which had only two earthquakes in 2013 but 42 in 2014. Most of those quakes were near the border with Oklahoma.
Skoumal also points out, “We just don’t know where all the faults are located.” That puts us at risk of activating more previously unknown faults and increasing the risk of damaging earthquakes. Governor Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in New York in December, citing earthquakes as one of the reasons along with concerns of contamination of drinking water and climate change.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A dire new report issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found that the climate crisis is on a worrying trajectory as the crisis's hallmarks — sea level rise, ice loss and extreme weather — all increased over the last five years, which will end as the warmest five-year period on record.
By Peter Gleick
War is a miserable thing. It kills and maims soldiers and civilians. It destroys infrastructure, cultures and communities. It worsens poverty and development challenges. And it damages and cripples vital ecological and environmental resources.
Hundreds of activists gathered in the Swiss Alps on Sunday to mourn the loss of Pizol, a glacier that has steadily retreated over the last decade as temperatures have warmed the mountain tops, according to CNN.
Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on social media Saturday when he traveled in the first-ever motorcade to drive down the streets of Michigan's car-free Mackinac Island, HuffPost reported.
By Shawn Radcliffe
- As illnesses and deaths linked to vaping continue to rise, health officials urge people to stop using e-cigarettes.
- Officials report 8 deaths have been linked to lung illnesses related to vaping.
- Vitamin E acetate is one compound officials are investigating as a potential cause for the outbreak.
By Julia Conley
As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world — making it the biggest climate protest ever — they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.