Fracking Activity is Probably Causing Earthquakes in Texas

By Kiona Smith-Strickland on at

Fracking can’t catch a break from bad press recently: Some think it’s triggering earthquakes in Texas, a state usually lacking in seismic activity.

The U.S. Geological Survey says that the Dallas area (a fracking hub) has experienced 40 mini-temblors this year, with a 2.7 quake detected just this weekend. In January, nearby Irving was hit with 11 earthquakes in 24 hours.

The controversial fracking practice involves shoving a drill into underground shale rock, fracturing said rock by pressurising it with pumped liquid, and then slurping the cracked rock’s released gas or oil up a well and to the surface.

Dallas is part a region that sits atop the Barnett Shale, a fracking hotspot that brims with 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The USGS says that the Dallas metro only had one recorded quake between 1950 and 2008—the region’s pre-fracking days.

Meanwhile, scientists maintain that it’s not the fracking itself that’s driving North Texas’s quake spike, but the wastewater injection wells. That’s when oil and gas companies shove brine and other fracking byproducts back into the ground, irritating faults.

Even though actual rock fracturing isn’t likely leading these seismic fits, wastewater injection is still part of the whole fracking process. Regardless, induced earthquakes in Texas is not a welcome trend.


Image: fracking in California. via Getty