Fault lines in Texas lay dormant for 300 million years until fracking came along.
Now, wastewater injections from oil and gas wells have reawakened the sleeping giants and they are causing earthquakes. Since fracking took off around 2008, states like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and much more have experienced a never before seen a surge in earthquakes.
For example, Oklahoma's earthquake rate has increased from only a couple a year to more than 800 and Texas has seen six times the usual number. The earthquakes have mostly been small but Oklahoma has had several damaging quakes that were over magnitude 5.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that fracking is detrimental and causes earthquakes, there are a few scientists who say the surge in earthquakes in areas where fracking was introduced is natural. They try to say it is normal for fault lines to move every now and then but researchers have new evidence to the contrary.
Most recently, researchers have traced 450 million years of fault history in the Dallas-Fort Worth part of Texas and they found the faults almost never moved. Beatrice Magnani is a seismologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and she says, "There hasn’t been activity along these faults for 300 million years. Geologically, we usually define these faults as dead."
By determining the age of each rock layer, Magnani and her colleagues studied the fault's history and that is how they discovered the faults had not moved in 300 million years. The researchers determined the probability of a natural earthquake occurring in North Texas was 1 in 6,000 and say it is "exceedingly unlikely" that the recent quakes were natural.
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