How Fracking Has Caused an Uptick in Earthquakes in Midland/Odessa
Injecting wastewater into disposal wells is part of the fracking process and seismologists are saying that is the main cause of almost 2,000 earthquakes so far this year.
Geoscientists say the wastewater injection into wells is what has caused the numerous earthquakes felt in the Permian Basin just this year alone.
“There's different mechanisms by which humans can trigger earthquakes and wastewater injection is probably the most obvious and common in West Texas,” said Daniel Trugman, Associate Professor of Geology Studies and Head of the Earthquake Science Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.
Brine water is a by-product of the oil and gas industry and they dispose of that wastewater by injecting it deep in the ground near drilling sites.
When the wastewater is injected near faults or cracks deep in the earth, it can cause those faults to shift and cause earthquakes.
“When you inject fluid into the subsurface of the ground, it changes the pressure state of the ground, and that will tend to activate faults that already exist,” said Mairi Litherland, Manager of New Mexico Tech’s Seismological Observatory.
The USGS shows there were no earthquakes registered in or around Pecos in 2010, but since the beginning of 2022 there have already been numerous earthquakes of 1.5 or greater magnitude in the Pecos region.
Experts say that the reason for so many more earthquakes this year than in the past couple of years is because the injected wastewater below the surface has likely caused the rock to be in a continued state of stress and that is what has caused the heightened state of seismic activity.
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