Did fracking cause the Oklahoma earthquake?

  • Published on November 6th, 2011

There was a 5.6 magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma last night. Buildings shook, chimneys and towers collapsed, and there was other extensive property damage. It was the worst quake in Oklahoma history.

The only question is: How long will authorities continue to deny that fracking is a problem?

  • Last year, we reported on earthquakes in  Cleburn, Texas, where they’d never happened before, but they had a whole lot of fracking going on. When the town was rattled for the first time in its history by a 2.8 temblor, “Everyone called it a coincidence.”

In the next week, four additional quakes were detected in and around the city. Although the tremors were mild – as low as magnitude 2.1 – they still were noteworthy for North Texas.

“If you look at the history of earthquakes in Texas, it’s unusual to have any down there,” said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

“I’d be somewhat concerned about what’s going on if I lived there,” he said.

  • Last week, we reported on the news out of England, where the oil/gas industry has less clout. Not only had they concluded that fracking was causing quakes, but they were shutting it down as a result. (See: This is bad: Fracking causes earthquakes.)
  • The Oklahoma Geological Survey just released a pre-spublication study on the possible links between fracking and quakes. After boiling down the science-speak, it basically concludes that recent quakes could have been caused by fracking. Today’s earthquakes were about 90 miles north of that cluster.
Oklahoma earthquake swarm (by flickr user kelleymcd)

Unlike those quakes, we’re  not able to say yet whether this major quake was directly caused by the massive fracking operations in the region.

But considering all the other faults of fracking – including the massive water use, the use of nasty unregulated chemicals, and the potential for contamination of water supplies – this is just one more reason to think before we rush into unregulated fracking all over the country. The State of Pennsylvania had practically been taken over by the fracking industry; New York has resisted so far, but has shown signs of going over. North Dakota is also ripe for a takeover.

The question is: Do we really want to destroy our country for the sake of quick profits and cheap energy?

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


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