Gas and Oil production may help to explain the spike in small earthquakes in the midsection of the United States, says a new study released by the U.S. Geological Survey. The rate in small quakes has increased by six times since late in the 20th century. The changes in the rate, says the study, is near certain to be man-made.
Experts not involved in the study were split as to their opinion about it. The study has of yet not been published but later in April will be presented. The study says a mild increase started in early 2001 and stems from an increase in quake activity in an area of methane production along the border of New Mexico and Colorado. The 2001 increase started at about the same time as methane production started in the same area.
Since 2009 that increase has gotten stepper due to additional quakes in a number of areas near gas and oil production, including places in Oklahoma and Arkansas. No one is certain how the quake rates could be related to the gas and oil production, but they have made the link between the two from the injection of huge amounts of wastewater that is left over, back into the earth.
The study covered an area of the U.S. that is east of Utah to west of Ohio and took into account quakes that were 3-magnitude or higher. The biggest quake registered during the study was a 5.6-magnitude that hit in Oklahoma on November 5, 2011. Dozens of residences were damaged and some experts said because of its strength it could not have been linked to the production of gas and oil.