Hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma linked to injection wells

BY Jenny Marder  July 3, 2014 at 4:46 PM EDT
Pumpjacks extract oil from the Inglewood Oil field, near where two test wells using Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, revealed no threat to groundwater, air quality or added risk of induced seismic activity according to a study by the field's owner, Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP) in greater Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2012. The findings come from a yearlong study by Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP), owner of the Inglewood oil field in the Baldwin Hills section of Los Angeles. The 1,000- acre Inglewood field is surrounded by Culver City, Baldwin Hills and Inglewood, making one of the largest urban oil fields in the U.S. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Pumpjacks extract oil from the Inglewood Oil field, near where two test wells using Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, revealed no threat to groundwater, air quality or added risk of induced seismic activity according to a study by the field’s owner, Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP) in greater Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2012. The findings come from a yearlong study by Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP), owner of the Inglewood oil field in the Baldwin Hills section of Los Angeles. The 1,000- acre Inglewood field is surrounded by Culver City, Baldwin Hills and Inglewood, making one of the largest urban oil fields in the U.S. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Scientists are increasingly linking hundreds of earthquakes near Jones, Oklahoma to wastewater wells used in fracking operations.

Research published in Thursday’s edition of the journal, Science, shows that just four of these wells could be responsible for one-fifth of the region’s earthquakes experienced between 2008 and 2013. These are four high-volume wells used in disposal operations near Oklahoma City, researchers at Cornell University found.

“The pressure of the water in the pore space of rock can reduce the forces keeping a fault locked, and potentially trigger a rupture,” reports Science news.

This is a possible explanation for the recent surge of earthquakes in the region. Since the start of the year, the state has already seen 240 quakes measuring a magnitude of 3.0 or greater.