Injection Wells Spawn Powerful Earthquakes

The middle of Oklahoma has become an earthquake hotspot because of the oil and gas industry—and also from powerful temblors around the world. In the area near Prague, Okla., where wastewater from oil and gas production has been injected down disposal wells for decades, a series of earthquakes broke out following the massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake off the coast of the Maule region of Chile in 2010. For months the grounds in Oklahoma periodically shook, culminating in a destructive 5.7 magnitude quake in November 2011.

According to a new paper published in Science on July 12, that makes the Prague earthquake not only the largest earthquake associated with wastewater injection but also the largest linked to another seemingly natural quake as an initiating trigger, despite the distances involved. And that suggests that such relatively small, remotely triggered earthquakes might serve as a warning sign of bigger shocks to come, according to geologist Nicholas van der Elst of the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, who led the research.

Written by David Biello. To read the full article, click here


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