Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Ohio town's first earth tremors tied to fracking

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Energy
Ohio town's first earth tremors tied to fracking Shutterstock
01 Oct
2013
A new study has found a clear link between earthquake activity and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a small town in Ohio

From when records began in 1776 until 2011, the residents of Youngstown, Ohio, had never experienced an earthquake. However, in December 2010, Northstar 1, a well built to pump wastewater produced by fracking in the neighbouring state of Pennsylvania, came online. Over the following year, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, including a 3.9-magnitude tremor on 31 December 2011.

When a team led by Won-Young Kim of Columbia University analysed the Youngstown earthquakes, they found that their onset, cessation and even temporary dips in activity were all tied to the activity at the Northstar 1 well. The first earthquake occurred 13 days after pumping began, and the tremors ceased shortly after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down the well in December 2011. Earthquake activity dipped in the periods after US public holidays and when injection at the well was temporarily stopped.

‘The earthquakes were centred in subsurface faults near the injection well,’ Kim said. ‘These shocks were likely due to the increase in pressure from the deep waste water injection, which caused the existing fault to slip. Throughout 2011, the earthquakes migrated from east to west down the length of the fault away from the well – indicative of the earthquakes being caused by an expanding pressure front.’

This story was published in the October 2013 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

A look at the contribution of hippos to the savannah…

Wildlife

The new app encourages young children to connect with the…

Energy

A type of panel has been invented that can generate…

Tectonics

In the 4th century BC, Aristotle proposed that earthquakes were…

Climate

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management pledges to achieve net…

Tectonics

Earthquakes from time immemorial have attracted the attention of the…

Tectonics

A planned kayaking expedition in Nepal took on a whole…

Tectonics

Scientists from Bristol University are working in conjunction with EDF…

Tectonics

In the 1930s, Charles Richter developed a simple scale for…

Tectonics

Researchers at Colombia University have answered a question that has…

Tectonics

How prepared can any government or city be against a…

Tectonics

Benjamin Hennig creates a series of cartograms to demonstrate the…

Wildlife

Could grey seals singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star help develop…

Climate

Deep sea expert Dr Alex Rogers explains the importance of…

Oceans

Analysis of coral cores, extracted from coral reefs in the…

Wildlife

Celebrities and animal welfare groups have been expressing their disappointment…

Geophoto

In a series of photographs from his recent trip to…