Confirmed: Fracking Caused Ohio Earthquakes
March 9, 2012 in Climate Change
A number of coincidental circumstances appear to make a compelling argument for the recent Youngstown-area seismic events to have been induced.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has confirmed that a series of earthquakes in the state were caused by injecting leftover fracking fluids, "brine," deep into wells.
ODNR stated today:
Geologists believe induced seismic activity is extremely rare, but it can occur with the confluence of a series of specific circumstances. After investigating all available geological formation and well activity data, ODNR regulators and geologists found a number of co-occurring circumstances strongly indicating the Youngstown area earthquakes were induced. Specifically, evidence gathered by state officials suggests fluid from the Northstar 1 disposal well [a deep injection well primarily used for oil and gas fluid waste disposal] intersected an unmapped fault in a near-failure state of stress causing movement along that fault.
The ODNR report notes that in 2011, the Youngstown, Ohio area experienced 12 "low-level seismic events," and that the 2011 earthquakes were unique because of their proximity to a deep disposal well, known as Northstar 1, used to inject fracking fluids.
The report adds that "before 2011, [Ohio Seismic Network] had not recorded earthquake activity with epicenters located in the Youngstown area."
From April 26 to Dec. 15, 2011, state geologists and regulators investigated a possible link between the well injections and the earthquakes, but were unable to obtain enough necessary data.
In Dec. of 2011 equipment and assistance was provided by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and after obtaining more seismic data, the ODNR director stopped operations at the well.