Revisiting the Fracking–Earthquake Connection

Here’s the situation in Texas and other parts of the country where fracking for natural gas has come on the scene: it’s producing a hell of a lot of gas, excitement, and money.

Earthquake epicenters examined in the study (red circles), injection wells (squares and + symbols) in use since October 2006, seismic monitoring stations (white triangles), and mapped faults (green lines). Credit: Cliff Frohlich/U. of Texas at Austin.

All of this gas is also producing a hell of a lot of wastewater, which, according to experts is producing a hell of a lot of earthquakes. Earthquakes? Yes, that’s right, earthquakes, as in the kind that shake the ground. According to some geophysicists, it isn’t fracking itself that’s causing earthquakes, it’s all the wastewater being pumped back into the ground for storage.

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Earthquake Warning Signs

Mongolia, China, 2003, Strange Pre-Earthquake Occurrences

A 2003 story in the China Daily relates some strange occurrences just prior to a large earthquake that hit Chifeng, a city in Mongolia. Villagers reported that they saw water spurt more than six feet into the air from a river bed that had been dry for many years.

Cellphone signals were reportedly knocked out for up till 10 hours prior to the quake in an area about 90 miles from the epicenter. Experts speculated the cause may have been interference from “abnormal terrestrial magnetic waves.”

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