USGS Updates Models for Determining Earthquakes from Injection Wells

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued an update yesterday into how they evaluate whether or not earthquakes are being caused by deep injection wells–wells that are disposing frack wastewater. USGS says, “Significant strides in science have been made to better understand potential ground shaking from induced earthquakes, which are earthquakes triggered by man-made practices.” And so they’ve issued a report that “outlines a preliminary set of models to forecast how hazardous ground shaking could be in the areas where sharp increases in seismicity have been recorded.” Translation: We’ve updated our best guesses about how this works. The new report is titled “Incorporating Induced Seismicity in the 2014 United States National Seismic Hazard Model–Results of 2014 Workshop and Sensitivity Studies” (full copy below). USGS concludes that it is almost always injection wells–over faults–that are the cause of induced earthquakes, and NOT fracking itself. The USGS says, “Many questions have been raised about whether hydraulic fracturing—commonly referred to as “fracking”—is responsible for the recent increase of earthquakes. USGS’s studies suggest that the actual hydraulic fracturing process is only occasionally the direct cause of felt earthquakes.” The word “occasionally” translates to this: you can count on one hand the number of times fracking (over a fault) has led to an earthquake…

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