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

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...

Geophoto

Photography competition, Earth Photo, returns for the third year with…

Oceans

A new study reveals the process behind the strange phenomenon…

Wildlife

Hunting is a topic that attracts polarised viewpoints. But as…

Oceans

A compilation of 50-years worth of data on human activity…

Wildlife

From the US to the Mediterranean, herds of goats are…

Wildlife

Meet the 2020 Whitley Award winners

Wildlife

Protecting the most famous members of the animal kingdom may…

Climate

With Milan announcing an ambitious new plan to reduce air…

Wildlife

Loss of tourism revenue is having a worrying impact on…

Oceans

Researchers studying marine heatwaves in the northeast Pacific, known as…

Wildlife

The notion that the Covid-19 pandemic all began because one…

Energy

The price of oil is plummeting – Angus Parker takes…

Geophoto

With so much to see on our doorsteps, this is…

Wildlife

A new decade-spanning study, in which the longest migration of…

Climate

Marco Magrini analyses the implications of the COP26 delay

Climate

Covid-19 has forced us to reduce destructive atmospheric behaviours and…

Wildlife

Recruiting armies of albatrosses could enable the detection of illegal…