A study from the University of Texas at Austin has concluded that hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) is the cause of a number of earthquakes in the Permian Basin in Texas.
The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth on Tuesday, details how scientists the TexNet seismic-monitoring program, created because of human-induced earthquakes in the central U.S., report that a number of earthquakes in Reeves, Pecos, and Culberson counties may be caused by fracking.
“The research done through this new study in West Texas, using a statistical approach to associate seismicity with oil and gas operations, suggests that some seismicity is more likely related to hydraulic fracturing than saltwater disposal,” said Alexandros Savvaidis, manager of the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program,
Earthquakes in Texas have become more frequent. So far this year TexNet seismographs have recorded 209 earthquakes, compared to 192 in 2018.
TexNet also reported that better monitoring in needed to accurately determine the geographic locations and depths of human-caused earthquakes. Results of the study suggest that the earthquakes are caused by fracking, or the process of injecting water, sand, and chemicals underground to unlock oil and gas reserves in shale formations, rather than being caused by salt-water disposal.
Research published earlier this year concluded that fracking can cause earthquakes for decades, even after operations cease or are reduced. Texas is not the only state to see an increase in earthquakes either. In Oklahoma alone, there has been a 4,000% increase in earthquake activity in the past eleven years.