up arrow How Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?

For the most part, You JoeDog doesn’t get worked up about hydraulic fracking. Quakes and contamination associated with it tend to appear in areas that support it. If you vote for politicians that green light fracking and your water turns flamable and your walls start to crack, then why should Your JoeDog get upset? Cause and effect, motherfsckers.

The epicenter of what-did-you-think-would-happen-when-you-fractured-the-earth-with-lubricants is Oklahoma. The Sooner state — as in “the sooner I get out of here the better” — has been riddled with earthquakes lately. Since the Joad Family said, “We gotta get out of this place” until 2008, the state averaged two quakes per year of magnitude three or higher. From 2013-2014, that number was ninety-two.

Now that could just be a coincidence, amirite? That’s what the energy industry wants you to think. In places like Oklahoma, polticians put their foot on the gas and never looked back. Frack first and ask questions later! Well, those questions are starting to get answered.

The Seismological Society of America sponsored a study whose findings don’t play nice with narratives told by energy companies. In Ohio, hydraulic fracturing activated a previously unknown fault and was confirmed to be the cause of increased seismic activity.

Another study by the US Geological Survey reached a similar conclusion. According to USGS, the seismicity rate changes it examined were “almost certainly manmade.”

As mentioned above, Your JoeDog doesn’t get worked up about this. If you want to wreck your state, he’ll use your cheap gas. Still, the poindexter in him can’t help but wonder, “How does fracking cause seismic activity?” He assumed fracturing triggered a shift.

In a general survey of hydraulic fracturing by the Financial Times, we gain insight from a clear and concise explanation:

Despite a common misconception, the quakes are not triggered by fracking itself, which involves shattering rocks deep underground with a high-pressure cocktail of water, sand and chemicals. Instead, they result from what bursts out of the rock alongside oil and gas: vast amounts of ancient seawater. The water is worthless, so the industry injects it back underground via disposal wells. The problem is that the liquid has unlocked previously stable faults, creating the slippage that triggers a “shalequake”. Such tremors have also been felt in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Ohio and Kansas.

There’s nothing about this process that makes Your JoeDog say, “That sounds like a good idea.” Yet it continues because humans aren’t good at long view and there’s a lot of money on the side of fracking to ensure it remains that way. Good luck, Oklahoma. You’re gonna need it.