New study claims to make firm link to earthquakes and fracking

A new study from researchers in British Columbia, Canada is said to have made an affirmative link to fracking being the cause of earthquakes.

The manuscript was published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America and The Globe and Mail states scientists involved in the research examined almost 700 earthquakes that took place between October, 2014, and December, 2015.

Honn Kao, a Natural Resources Canada seismologist and one of the authors of the study, in an interview said the risks created by such earthquakes should not be ignored just because the magnitudes have been relatively small.

“There is essentially no doubt in the research community that injection operations will be able to cause induced earthquakes,” he said. “The question now is whether or not the induced earthquakes can be big enough to have implications.”

The Globe and Mail report also points out:

In December, 2015, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission found a 4.6-magnitude earthquake in northeastern British Columbia earlier that year was caused by fracking. It was the largest induced seismic event ever recorded in the province.

The commission has said induced seismicity is “an event resulting from human activity” that “can be caused by industries such as mining and natural gas development.”

The study published this month found the earthquakes typically occurred above the area where fracking was taking place.

Dr. Kao, who leads Natural Resource Canada’s induced seismicity research, said the study also examined a 4.6-magnitude earthquake that occurred in August, 2015. The study found that quake had an epicentre approximately 1.5 kilometres from a Progress Energy Canada Ltd. fracking operation.

“Because most of the earthquakes induced by injection are relatively shallow, compared to tectonic natural earthquakes, given the same size, you would expect larger shaking close to the epicentre area,” he said.

“So, in other words, if this kind of event occurred in a populated area, then the level of shaking … can possibly exceed the damage threshold of structures.”

Prior studies have not been able to make any link to fracking and major earthquakes. At best the reason for their detection is due to population growth and enhanced technology that makes detecting earthquakes easier. Skepticism of how the research is reported is warranted since there have been many instances revealed on this blog when upon closer examination of a manuscript’s findings are not what the media made them out to be. It is plausible for fracking to cause earthquakes but typically they would be at 1 to 2 on the Richter scale. For fracking to trigger an earthquake of 4.5 or higher would be the result of wastewater injections at a fault ready to give way or just doing so as the drilling method is being used.

Attempts were made to access the study’s text but the website is a subscription-based. Also, Dr. Justin Rubenstein, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey, debunked claims made by environmentalists that fracking causes earthquakes around this time last year. According to Dr. Rubenstein, it is wastewater injections underground, not fracking, that cause seismic activity.

None the less, environmentalists will cherry-pick from research like this in order to make up propaganda against fracking. They have tried (and failed) to link the procedure to polluting groundwater and other aspects of the natural environment but it does not mean they will stop trying even when the science is against them.