EXPERTS CAN’T RULE OUT CONNECTION
(NEWSER) – Fracking is in the spotlight once again after a swarm of at least three dozen earthquakes in central Arkansas over the last week, CNN reports. Experts say they believe the quakes—the strongest of which was 3.5 magnitude—are natural, but they haven’t ruled out a connection with natural gas exploration involving hydraulic fracturing in the region.
“Right now all we’ve gotten reports of is shaking stuff and rattling shelves, but people are definitely noticing them,” an Arkansas Geological Survey scientist says, describing the chances of so many quakes in the area in such a short time as “Powerball kind of odds,” but noting that the nearest injection wells are eight miles away from the quakes. Another swarm of mild earthquakes in the next county over ended abruptly two years ago after a moratorium on new injection wells was imposed.
HAPPENED BACK IN FEBRUARY:
Swarm of Mild Quakes Rattles Arkansas
FRACKING, OR NATURAL GAS MINING, MIGHT BE TO BLAME
(NEWSER) – Arkansas residents are dealing with a new rash of minor earthquakes, the AP reports. The quakes—30 since Sunday, with the largest at 3.8 magnitude—have not caused serious damage, but have understandably unnerved the populace. “Now when it happens, people say, ‘Well, there’s another one,'” says a local fire chief. Geologists say this earthquake swarm has been rattling Arkansas on and off since 2009, though the cause is unclear.
A possible reason is natural-gas mining of the Fayetteville Shale, which underlies the region. Much of this mining is performed by “fracking”—using jets of pressurized water to break open rock deposits. Fracking itself isn’t believed to have a connection to the quakes, but “injection wells,” the wells in which the water is deposited once it is used, may be the culprit. “We have a disposal well here just outside of the city,” said the police chief in Guy. “People are suspecting that to be causing it, even though there isn’t any proof of that.”
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