Despite corporate propaganda asserting that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can actually be good for the environment, the iconic image in the movie Gasland where a man lights his tap water on fire can’t be unseen.
Or one might consider what Pennsylvania cattle farmer Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms documented around his well-tended property. Fracking began in his region in 2005 and is now littered with more than 1,500 wells. He and his fellow farmers in these fracked areas have begun to see curious things:
…the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cattle belonging to Don and Carol Johnson, who farm about 175 miles southwest of Jaffe. The animals had come into wastewater that leaked from a nearby well that showed concentrations of chlorine, barium, magnesium, potassium, and radioactive strontium. In Louisiana, 16 cows that drank fluid from a fracked well began bellowing, foaming and bleeding at the mouth, then dropped dead. Homeowners near fracked sites complain about a host of frightening consequences, from poisoned wells to sickened pets to debilitating illnesses. (Source)
It might be a result of the 596 chemicals used in the fracking process. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. A coincidence like earthquake swarms breaking out … also in fracked regions.
The evidence is there to strongly suggest a causal link. In Arkansas, for example, nearly 1,000 earthquakes have rattled the area in recent years. Previous to the beginning of this outbreak in 2010, Arkansas had a total of 38 quakes in 2009. Yet two cities, Greenbrier and Guy had a swarm of 30 small earthquakes in a four-day period in early 2011, which paralleled fracking activity in the same area.
This uptick has been echoed next-door in Oklahoma, where during roughly the same period, the state saw an increase in earthquakes from 50 per year to over 1,000 in 2010. The accumulating present-day data is also mirrored by earlier government research, which you can read about here, as well as a study from Oklahoma Geological Survey which drew some very solid conclusions despite using the word “possibility.” Read it for yourself to see if this would qualify for being beyond a reasonable doubt:
The strong correlation in time and space as well as a reasonable fit to a physical model suggest that there is a possibility these earthquakes were induced by hydraulic fracturing.
Our analysis showed that shortly after hydraulic fracturing began small earthquakes started occurring, and more than 50 were identified, of which 43 were large enough to be located. Most of these occurred within a 24 hour period after hydraulic fracturing operations had ceased.
There have been previous cases where seismologists have suggested a link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, but data was limited, so drawing a definitive conclusion was not possible for these cases. The first case occurred in June 1978 in Carter and Love Counties, just south of Garvin County, with 70 cases in 6.2 hours. The second case occurred in Love County with 90 earthquakes following the first and second hydraulic fracturing stages. [Nicholson and Wesson, 1990] (Source)
We can also look to a recent study conducted by the Geological Society of America, a non-profit organization with tens of thousands of members from nearly 100 countries. According to the abstract of this study, which looked most specifically at the largest earthquake reported, a 5.7 event that occurred in November (after the study cited above):
Significant earthquakes are increasingly occurring within the continental interior of the United States, including five of moment magnitude (Mw) ≥ 5.0 in 2011 alone. Concurrently, the volume of fluid injected into the subsurface related to the production of unconventional resources continues to rise. Here we identify the largest earthquake potentially related to injection, an Mw 5.7 earthquake in November 2011 in Oklahoma. The earthquake was felt in at least 17 states and caused damage in the epicentral region. It occurred in a sequence, with 2 earthquakes of Mw 5.0 and a prolific sequence of aftershocks. (emphasis added)
Given the aforementioned documentation by the U.S. Army, U.S. Geological Survey, the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the Geological Society of America, the data is approaching conclusive. Furthermore, the GSA also went on to indicate that evidence shows that even when fracking is halted, earthquake activity can continue and earthquake magnitude can increase over time.
Subsurface data indicate that fluid was injected into effectively sealed compartments, and we interpret that a net fluid volume increase after 18 yr of injection lowered effective stress on reservoir-bounding faults. Significantly, this case indicates that decades-long lags between the commencement of fluid injection and the onset of induced earthquakes are possible, and modifies our common criteria for fluid-induced events. The progressive rupture of three fault planes in this sequence suggests that stress changes from the initial rupture triggered the successive earthquakes, including one larger than the first [emphasis added]. (Source)
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Earthquakes rattled residents in Oklahoma on Saturday, the latest in a series that have put the state on track for record quake activity this year, which some seismologists say may be tied to oil and gas exploration.
One earthquake recorded at 3.8 magnitude by the U.S. Geological Survey rocked houses in several communities around central Oklahoma at 7:42 a.m. local time. Another about two hours earlier in the same part of the state, north of Oklahoma City, was recorded at 2.9 magnitude, USGS said.
Those two were preceded by two more, at 2.6 magnitude, and 2.5 magnitude, that also rolled the landscape in central Oklahoma early Saturday morning. A 3.0 magnitude tremor struck late Friday night in that area as well, following a 3.4 magnitude hit Friday afternoon.
Austin Holland, a seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey who tracks earthquake activity for the USGS, said the earthquake activity in the state is soaring.
“We have had almost as many magnitude 3 and greater already in 2014 than we did for all of 2013,” Holland said.
Last year’s number of “felt” earthquakes – those strong enough to rattle items on a shelf – hit a record 222 in the state. This year, less than four months into the year, the state has recorded 253 such tremors, according to state seismic data.
“We have already crushed last year’s record for number of earthquakes,” Holland said. (emphasis added)
And, curiously, the following connection is again offered:
Oil and gas exploration has increased in recent years across the country, spurred by U.S. efforts for energy independence. Modern hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is one particularly controversial technique.
For bigger quakes, so far this year the state has recorded 106 at 3.0 magnitude and above, according to Holland. For all of last year the state had 109 at 3.0 and above.
Do you live in a fracking zone? We would love to hear your firsthand account of what is happening in your region and if any action is being taken. Please leave your comments below.
RELATED – a poignant video about the victims of fracking, must see:
The Face of Fracking Victims
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