USGS Confirms Oklahoma Quakes Are Due To Fracking

Tyler Durden's picture

The debate about the cause of the exponential rise in the frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma has really heated up in the last year, but as KFOR4 reports, The United States Geological Survey (USGS) appears to have put any doubt firmly to rest. In a strongly-worded press release, the USGS states, "...Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity.. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes... Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs." For some, that could end the debate; but Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, is not so sure, "I don’t think it’s particularly helpful because basically, it says we’ve come to a conclusion, but we don’t have the science to back it up."


Full USGS Statement: Coping with Earthquakes Induced by Fluid Injection

A paper published today in Science provides a case for increasing transparency and data collection to enable strategies for mitigating the effects of human-induced earthquakes caused by wastewater injection associated with oil and gas production in the United States.  The paper is the result of a series of workshops led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with the University of Colorado, Oklahoma Geological Survey and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, suggests that it is possible to reduce the hazard of induced seismicity through management of injection activities.


Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.


Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs. These modern extraction techniques result in large quantities of wastewater produced along with the oil and gas. The disposal of this wastewater by deep injection occasionally results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt, and sometimes damaging. Deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S.


“The science of induced earthquakes is ready for application, and a main goal of our study was to motivate more cooperation among the stakeholders — including the energy resources industry, government agencies, the earth science community, and the public at large — for the common purpose of reducing the consequences of earthquakes induced by fluid injection,” said coauthor Dr. William Ellsworth, a USGS geophysicist.


The USGS is currently collaborating with interested stakeholders to develop a hazard model for induced earthquakes in the U.S. that can be updated frequently in response to changing trends in energy production.


“In addition to determining the hazard from induced earthquakes, there are other questions that need to be answered in the course of coping with fluid-induced seismicity,” said lead author of the study, USGS geophysicist Dr. Art McGarr. “In contrast to natural earthquake hazard, over which humans have no control, the hazard from induced seismicity can be reduced. Improved seismic networks and public access to fluid injection data will allow us to detect induced earthquake problems at an early stage, when seismic events are typically very small, so as to avoid larger and potentially more damaging earthquakes later on.”


“It is important that all information of this sort be publicly accessible, because only in this way can it be used to provide the timely guidance needed to reduce the hazard and consequences of induced earthquakes,” said USGS hydrologist and co-author of the paper, Dr. Barbara Bekins.

*  *  *

But, as KFOR4 reports, Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, says not so fast...

“I don’t think it’s particularly helpful because basically, it says we’ve come to a conclusion, but we don’t have the science to back it up,” Hatfield said. “Oklahoma has been very geologically active over time, and that’s one of the reasons we have so many oil and gas traps.”


While USGS calls for transparency in collecting data, Hatfield says that’s nothing new.


“You know, this is what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half. We were proactive in this. We were the ones who came forward and said ‘Listen, we want to work with the regulators, with the Geological Survey.'”


Matt Skinner, with the Corporation Commission, said, “This is more of a policy paper saying, you need to respond to it. You know, there has to be some kind of concerted effort.”


He says there are maps that show a growth in technology that has helped develop new guidelines.


“Even if you’re in an earthquake, according to the records we have, if you’re within three miles of a stressed fault, you’re only chance to put a disposal well there is to file for a yellow light permit,” Skinner said.


He says right now, there are about 80 applications that may not be approved.


Both sides of the issue say they’re looking to work together to find more answers.

*  *  *

While correlation is not causation - perhaps the 1000 or more words of the paper are better summed up in one chart...

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knukles's picture

Another Conspiracy Theory becomes Conspiracy Fact
There are no "Conspiracy Theories"


PS  And the last 2 days and nights out here, they've been spraying like there's no manana

Publicus's picture

Time for the frackers to pay for earthquake insurance cost for everyone past and future.

I am more equal than others's picture




Laughly stupid.  Much like the US Army Corps of Engineers declaring drainage ditches are "Waters of the US" or global warming is "real".  I want to see any boat or ship move up the ditches or once the data modification has been corrected if globull warming is real. 

No agenda by the administration to play into the narrative that fracking is evil  Maybe they should do a documentary to "prove" it.... oh yeah, that has already been done and shown to be an error-filled film.

7.62x54r's picture

Politics breeds bad choices.

Fracking fluid is mostly Polyethylene Glycol, a harmless food additive, and some Bentonite clay. The EPA won't let them dump used fluid into sewers or out on the ground ( both options are safe ), so the only way they can get rid of the stuff legally is to pump it into old wells.

Pumping large quantities of liquid into old oil wells causes earthquakes.

rehypothecator's picture

Humans cause forest fires and avalanches in the hope of preventing larger, more destructive ones later.  Why should earthquakes be any different?  I'll be Japan would have preferred 10 magnitude 8 quakes to have been caused by fracking, but which didn't breach Fukushima's tsunami wall, rather than a single magnitude 9 which did. 

karp4cy's picture

Anyone that understands plate tectonics, realizes that if fracking is indeed causing quakes, it is a good thing.

Zero_Head's picture
Zero_Head (not verified) karp4cy Feb 21, 2015 7:17 PM

"USGS Confirms Oklahoma Quakes Are Due To Fracking"


How fucking ridiculous....Zerohege should be asahamed over ths idiotic lie.....


Any branch of government controled by Obama is a nest of lying assholes...


Obama's NASA just got caught lying to promote the democrat's man made gobal warming lie....

MontgomeryScott's picture


You mean, the fracking FRACKERS are FRAKCING the planet? Or, is this fracking problem limited to fracking Oklahoma?

I fracking KNEW IT...

I've been watching USGOV BIS OPS site, and haven't seen the USGS ordering any machine guns or bullet-proof vests (like everyone else is doing, including the USDA , ).

As a 'constitutional lawyer', Soetoro probably doesn't give a shit about geological surveys (the only surveys he gives a shit about have to do with his 'popularity rating').

long-shorty's picture

This article is so typical for our times in that it highlights a "debate," as if somehow what a for-profit industry spokesperson says is somehow equivalent to a scientific peer-reviewed publication in one of the world's top journals.

If one want to know the truth, there is no debate needed here. Nature doesn't lie. Competent people observe the data; it is what it is, whether or not the conclusons are potentially harmful to profits or a political view.

This is like the "debate" between evolution and "intelligent design." One is right but inconvenient for a group of people, so that group chooses to deny the obvious. There is no real equivalency there, or here.

I am soooo tired of seing scientific knowledge completely subjugated by this false "debate" dichotomy. Just because some idiot says herbs and minerals cure cancer, or vaccines are bad, or high amounts of saturated fat from animal sources are good for you, doesn't make any of those things any more true. It seems as if the Internet has only made this phenomenon worse. People will say any horrid shit to get clicks, and then people who have a certain view and don't really care if the truth isn't concordant with that can just go to their favorite websites like Weston A. Price Foundation and create a whole community full of misinformed idiots.

Why not read some science books and some Chomsky and some NY Times and some Breitbart and ZH and use your actually beautiful human brain to decde what you think is true? So many people still live life as if they need to believe everything their tribe does or else they are afraid they'll be kicked out of it.

Joe Davola's picture

Having been on both ends of the peer review process a few times, there are people involved in that process - so it can be just as flawed, politically motivated and petty as any other human endeavor.

GetZeeGold's picture




Total transformation.....we will turn the government into a political weapon of mass destruction.













mastersnark's picture

So many people still live life as if they need to believe everything their tribe does or else they are afraid they'll be kicked out of it.


Dude, that's you.

TMLutas's picture

So basically the EPA is causing earthquakes. Works for me. 

wrs1's picture

Fracking fluid is mostly water.  The purpose of the gel is simply to support the propant in the fluid.

MontgomeryScott's picture

Let's all look at what chemicals really ARE used, Mr. 'Exxon-Mobil':

READ THE FUCKING LIST, and tell everyone that it's SAFE TO DRINK.

I wonder which chemical this asshole is calling a 'gel'.

YES, YOU, you corporate shill ASSHOLE (wrs1).

Teamtc321's picture


Completion fluids or as you call them, fracking fluids, are primarily water based. At times depending on the prog, (the engineered diagram) we will weight water up to 9.7 pounds per gallon with sodium, (rock salt) mixed. This allows the fluid to carry the Frac sand to the zone. Potash is also used to weight the water in certain areas.

The vast majority of fracs are straight water on typical horizontals though. The majority of returned fluid from a flowed well is salt water, thus why sodium is used for the proponent. And no, it's not dumped in the sewer, lol. It's returned through a injection well, Back to a zone were the fluid is already high salt content.

Sure be nice if accurate information would be circulated on how the process is performed.

FreedomGuy's picture

I lived in Oklahoma for awhile and quakes were rather frequent, albeit rather small. These are normally stable areas, historically.

I am a global warming skeptic, especially on the government "solutions" side and generally a pro-industry, libertarian type right-winger. However, I believe there could be a connection. My background is engineering but not geo-engineering or oil. It makes sense to me that there could be a connection. Without details like scale and pressures and strata data it still seems possible that splitting rock/soil and both the extraction and injection of varioius fluids and gasses will naturally change both the compressional forces as well as the frictional properties over fairly large areas. Given that this is not solid bedrock, it makes sense that rock and soil might shift.

However, in theory this may well be a good thing. It is sort of like relieving the pent up pressures and having five class 3 quakes rather than a 7 or 8 one day. I would also guess that the really really large quakes eminate from much farther down in the plates rather than the rather surface operations.

The problem for me is that if you give the lefties and enviro-weenies even an inch, they will come back with a mile high pile of new regs and government powers. Their goal is the elimination of any endeavor that is not heavily taxed and state controlled.

kaiserhoff's picture

From the article:

"I don’t think it’s particularly helpful because basically, it says we’ve come to a conclusion, but we don’t have the science to back it up."


Mark Urbo's picture

Yes it does...


..Global (AGW) Warming = Man Made Lies

Just like all this fracking BS !

patb's picture

only has to be navigable one day a year....  Good sized spring rain makes a lot of things "Waters of the US"..

asophocles's picture
asophocles (not verified) Publicus Feb 21, 2015 7:44 PM

Bob, you accept the headline "USGS Confirms...." without question - it comes from the government, remember? - but you have a problem with the State Department confirming details in the Ukrainian narrative.

"The government is full of shit" or "The government tells the truth!" - which is it, you silly goose?

MontgomeryScott's picture

Let's see.

Inject poisonous chemicals with any potable groundwater left, in order to make a quick buck, and in the process cause the destabilization of the Earth's crust in areas where the process is performed, all in the name of Mammon. the ground destabilizes under the people's feet, and they are forced to flee to the pre-planned agenda 21 'habitats'; and the water is no longer drinkable (and will poison the crops that people eat). MORE for the people doing the fracking (and they don't give a shit as mass starvation, earthquakes, and drought caused by the poisoning of the water supply start to cause death on a massive scale).

Yeah, it looks like it might all ready BE weaponized.


Mark Urbo's picture

I think the Saudi's just did...

wendigo's picture
wendigo (not verified) Feb 21, 2015 5:37 PM

The problem is, as usual, the banking system. The angloamerican banking system has its tentacles in almost every country on earth. Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and a couple of others are exceptions. All of them are reflexively considered enemies by nearly everyone in the western world, with few stopping to ask if they're really enemies or not. That's the power of propaganda.

Gun rights, gay rights, free speech, internet regulation, etc etc are all distractions. They keep us riled up and set against each other on issues like these, so as to distract us from our real enemies and real problems. The bill of rights and constitution died a long time ago. The republic is dead.

The enemy we face has the power to create money. That is the only power worth having. Even if you were the supreme commander of all of earth's armed forces, how would you pay the troops? By using money the banking cartel creates. Bullets and bombs are nothing.

Try running a civilization without money. Can't be done. Anything that involves people living in cities requires a monetary system. Sure, in times past the peasants would barter goods instead of using money, but at the state level some type of currency is required. Taxes are collected in money. Troops are paid in money.

Money doesn't exist in a vacuum. It has to be created by someone. That someone has the supreme power. Money is the lifeblood of civilization. If you were bleeding to death and I had the ability to give you a massive blood transfusion, would you not agree I have the power to decide whether you live or die?

That is the power that the banks have over civilization. If they wanted, they could destroy all the money in existence, and we'd be back to hunting and gathering within a year.

Until the power to create money is taken from the banks and returned to the people, where it rightfully belongs, the rest of our rights will continue to erode. We may win a small victory here and there, but our enemy can create an infinite amount of money to buy whatever it wants. The overall trend is down and will be as long as the status quo remains.

falconflight's picture

Your post, jmo, seems a bit off topic, however, please you aren't saying the root of all evil is money are you?

7.62x54r's picture

Fiat money is the root of all evil.

Gold and silver are simply fungible commodities that are very useful as non-fiat money.

falconflight's picture

Maybe the love of fiat money?  But seriously, that I can wholeheartedly  concur.

FreedomGuy's picture

Please stop with the banking conspiracy stuff for just one damned thread.

It is kicking up a blizzard here. I think maybe bankers are behind it.

JustObserving's picture
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Upton Sinclair

Light Your Water On Fire from Gas Drilling, Fracking

Besides thousand of earthquakes a year are great if you like your martinis shaken, not stirred.

Harbanger's picture

Well, Who pays their salary?  USGS also pushes the Global warming meme.  Just sayin,

Global Warming May Have Severe Consequences for Rare Haleakala Silverswords
Released: 1/15/2013 1:30:00 PM


falconflight's picture

Prevaracations and lies by omission, just like global anthropological climate change.  It's easier to believe a lie than to seek the truth...

mla's picture

It's always been possible to do that in certain areas.

7.62x54r's picture

This. If you live in an oil producing area, you will always have volatile petroleum fractions in the groundwater.

Hell, there are sidewalks in Lompoc CA that have no smoking warning signs on them, as they periodically burst into flames when accumulated light fractions and a lit cigarrette coincide.

Wahooo's picture

This reads like the Old Testament. Where's the science? Wait until the Yellowstone caldera blows - they'll blame it on fracking and overfed camp bears.

XqWretch's picture

Ah, get the fuck out of here... as if the "shale boom" needed any more reason to collapse anyways, considering it requires $85+ a barrel in order to make a profit. Let the shit collapse already and let some real price discovery into the market. Hell, bomb OPEC if they start manipulating prices for all I care. But propping up a dying industry that is unprofitable is basically everything wrong with what is going on in this country.

silverer's picture

I'm not disputing the findings.  There may be a postive side to this.  Lots of small earthquakes alleviate pressure, so that you don't have a huge build up to a big one.  The area has had really major quakes in the past before the fracking started.  I guess better to have lots of minor small ones, less or no damage?  Watch this lead to a new science where they use the process to "control" earthquakes.  Except it will not be a beneficial side effect that costs nothing, but rather another big government tax and spend project.

i_call_you_my_base's picture

You should probably inject some liquid into the earth underneath your house as a preventative measure.

cigarEngineer's picture

Exactly. Whether the earthquakes are caused by fracking or not, it's irrelevant. They are small and cause no damage. Earthquakes are a normal part of life all over the world. This is a distraction. 

It's the same story with global warming. Whether or not it's caused by mankind is irrelevant. It's undisputed that the earth getting warmer has more benefits than costs.

djsmps's picture

Having your house shake daily, with cumulative damage, is not a distraction.


falconflight's picture

That isn't the nature of the seismic activity in OK.

7.62x54r's picture

If the EPA would allow the proper disposal of fracking waste liquid, they wouldn't have to pump it into the ground and cause these earthquakes.

XqWretch's picture

Can you explain yourself please?

djsmps's picture

Do you live there? I do.

XqWretch's picture

It is when you live in Jew York and have some line running right under your apartment

g speed's picture

seems the quality of the seismic detection equipment went up a bit in 2011----or the strengh of the quakes logged started to include many little ones not logged before----I call bull shit on this story.

djsmps's picture

There are multiple +3.0 quakes almost daily. The biggest quake was a couple on months ago and was 4.8. These are not minor small quakes.