A new study has confirmed that recent earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio in March of 2014 were caused by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. According to the study, fracking has caused “scores” of small earthquakes including one, a magnitude 3.0, that was the largest fracking-related earthquake ever recorded. The oil and gas wells operated by Hilcorp Energy that caused the earthquake were shut down two days after the earthquakes were felt.
In Ohio, the March 2014 bout of fracking-triggered earthquakes happened on a hidden fault in ancient crystalline rock underneath a natural gas well in the Utica Shale, according to the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. “These earthquakes near Poland Township occurred in the Precambrian basement, a very old layer of rock where there are likely to be many pre-existing faults,” said Robert Skoumal who co-authored the study with Michael Brudzinski and Brian Currie at Miami University in Ohio. “This activity did not create a new fault, rather it activated one that we didn’t know about prior to the seismic activity.”
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Skoumal’s team identified 77 earthquakes with magnitudes between 1.0 and 3.0 from March 4 to March 12, 2014 in the Poland Township area. The team then compared the earthquakes to “well stimulation reports” in August 2014 by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. They found that the earthquakes “coincided temporally and spatially with hydraulic fracturing at specific stages of the stimulation,” according to Phys.org.
And this is not the first time earthquakes in Ohio were caused by fracking. Between Oct 1. and Dec. 13, 2013, 400 earthquakes were triggered by hydraulic fracking on an “unmapped fault” in Harrison County, Ohio.
Photos by National Park Service and L.A. County Government