More Links Between Drilling and Earthquakes

  • Susan Phillips

A new study links oil and gas drilling activity to earthquakes with more certainty. EnergyWire reports that the paper will be presented this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

USGS scientists had been equivocal about links between drilling and chronic seismic activity near Trinidad, Colo., punctuated by a magnitude-5.3 convulsion in August 2011. According to an abstract for this week’s conference, they have now concluded that most, if not all, of the quakes “have been triggered by the deep injection of wastewater related to the production of natural gas from the coal-bed methane field here.”
University of Oklahoma seismologist Katie Keranen reported earlier this year that there was “a compelling link” between injection and the magnitude-5.6 earthquake in November that injured at least two people and damaged up to 200 structures east of Oklahoma City. Next week, she will present the results of a study done with researchers from USGS and Columbia finding that it was “likely triggered by fluid injection.”

The connection between earthquakes and drilling activity have focused on wastewater disposal through underground injections. But the connection has not been embraced by state regulators.