Does Hydraulic Fracturing Cause Seismic Activity? Essay

520 Words 3 Pages
The United States has an immense amount of proven natural gas reserves that could become a major source for the nation's energy future (1). The mining of the natural gas resources have become feasible and cheaper due to the advancement of hydraulic fracturing technologies which have increased the amount the extraction and enabled “greater access to gas in shale formations” (2). Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking of shale formations has positive benefits that includes economic growth and the natural gas extracted is cleaner than coal and oil, however it has caused serious environmental problems and possibly could be the cause of recent seismic activity in areas where fracking operations exist (3). Gas in shale formations are“low in …show more content…
Youngstown, Ohio is located on top of the Marcellus Shale and in close proximity to the Northstar 1 well; it was only two weeks after operations began at the well, tremors were recorded around Youngstown and after the well ceased to operate, the tremors stopped (7). It was discovered that the well existed over an ancient fault and the pressure from the well caused the fault to become active. Scientists believe that the “frequency and intensity of earthquakes” directly correlated with pressure levels in the well (8). Similar instances have occurred in Texas where close to 200 tremors shook the state from 2008 to 2009, as well as a 5.7 earthquake that shook central Oklahoma in 2011; all the incidents seemed to been caused by wastewater pumped into the ground at high pressure (9). The by-products of fracking are millions of gallons of wastewater that are disposed of through the injections of wastewater into the ground. The high pressure and volume of waste can trigger seismic activities for the waste products could leak out of the injection area and into surrounding rock formations and weaken them (10). In addition, pumping of water into the earth increases pore pressure and results in faults and fractures that are more susceptible to movement (10). In a study conducted by the National Research Council, they found that

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