Scientists Want Surrey's Oil to Stay in the Ground Over Micro-Earthquake Threat

By Gary Cutlack on at

A group of scientists have written a Very Serious Letter to The Times, warning that some towns in Surrey may continue to be gradually shaken by minor earthquakes unless the practice of extracting oil in the area is halted.

This isn't even a fracking issue, as the oil in the county is being drilled out by traditional methods. Despite this, the region has seen 12 earthquakes hit in the space of four months, although perhaps "hit" isn't the right word as these mild shakes topped out at a maximum wobbliness magnitude of 3.0 on the quake scale. That's enough wobble to be felt and to rattle the odd slate off the sagging barn roof, mind, although what the scientists are really concerned about is the potential to disrupt the water supply.

The quakes could mean that there's some previously unknown unstable geology in the area, which could lead to the rupturing of an oil well and the contamination of surrounding groundwater. Hence the call for a moratorium on oil activities in the area's two drill sites at Horse Hill and Brockham, while the existence of a possible quake "triggering mechanism" caused by the oil sites is investigated. [The Times]