Investigation 6

October 9, 2016

SMC B206

Mr. Caswell

Investigation 6

          Fracking has repeatedly been linked to earthquakes, such as with the case with Texas.

In a study by Ellsworth and other writers, from the Science journal, used a special radar

and discovered that it can make a big difference depending as to where wastewater is

injected. Injecting into certain wells results in uplifting ground and have seismic energy be

released. More specifically, fracking involves special liquids being injected into rock layers

deep under the Earth’s surface under high pressure to make microcracks. This allows for

resources, such as petroleum, to flow more and make for efficient extraction. It’s these

very cracks which alter the ground in such a way which result in earthquakes.

          A study from Seismological Research Letters explained that fracking was the #1 cause of

Texas’ earthquakes. In the study, 162 earthquakes which had happened in Texas were

analyzed and it was found that 95 of them were human-caused, part of which were likely

due to fracking. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is speculated that millions of

people in the central United States are endangered by earthquakes in 2016. While not

completely responsible for the earthquakes, it’s still another reason as to why fracking

should be handled carefully.

          In defense of fracking in regards to earthquakes, the people at the Seismological

Laboratory in Berkeley’s University of California mentioned that, from a study they

conducted in Oklahoma, fracking do not cause earthquakes, at least ones which put the

U.S. population in significant danger. They elaborated by explaining that the tremors

caused from fracking are not big enough for humans to feel. Former seismologist Bill

Ellsworth went on to say that although there have been over 100,000 wells which have

been used for fracking, the biggest earthquake that was made was one which had a

magnitude of 3.6, which isn’t a particular risk to the population.

          Similarly, people at the University of Oregon have gone on to say that the effects of

the fracking process are limited. It was discovered that they are only more likely to induce

earthquakes when disposing the wasterwater through injecting, which means that we

should be more careful as to how we dispose of waste. In the case that fracking, and its

waste, were to be handled more efficiently, then perhaps the process would not be as

questioned as it currently is. The United States and its population would likely feel less

negative effects.


Barlow, Jim. (2016, April 19). Earthquake hazard report reflects a compromise. Retrieved from

Berkeley Seismological Lab. (2016, September 3). Seismic Hazard in the Midwest. Retrieved from

Fragoso, A. (2016, May 19). The Fracking Process Is Now The Leading Cause Of Earthquakes In Texas. Retrieved from

Kuchment, A. (2016, March 28). Drilling-induced earthquakes may endanger millions in 2016, USGS says. Retrieved from

Rodrigue, C. (2016, June 19). Earthquake Hazard. Retrieved from

Than, K. (2016, September 22). Satellites help link Texas earthquakes to wastewater injection, Stanford scientist says. Retrieved from

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