ALL Of Youngstown’s Earthquakes Were Indirectly Caused By Fracking
The Ohio city had never experienced an earthquake before the 2010 opening of a wastewater injection well. All 109 earthquakes that occurred in the ensuing 12 months now appear to be linked to the well, says a new study.
A study that appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters reveals that each of the 109 earthquakes that took place in or near Youngstown, OH in 2011 was linked to activity associated with the nearby Northstar 1 injection well. The well went online at the end of 2010 and was shut down at the end of 2011 after a magnitude 3.9 earthquake occurred. Interestingly, “dips in earthquake activity lined up with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and other times when injection at the well was temporarily stopped.”
What’s the Big Idea?
While it’s not the first time fracking and its outputs have been linked to seismic events, the persistence and regularity of such events in an area that had no records of earthquake activity in over 230 years is unique. Seismologist Won-Young Kim says that the Northstar 1 well was located in an ancient fault, which was ruptured by the wastewater injection. However, he notes that of the 177 other injection wells operating in Ohio during 2011, only this well was linked with seismic activity, and that, rather than change the overall disposal method, companies should “find better ways to image hidden subsurface faults and fractures.”
As part of last year's UN Rio+20 Summit, a group of financial institutions are looking into ways to put monetary value on natural resources and add incentives and penalties for their preservation or destruction.