Geologists say that recent earthquakes in Ohio and Oklahoma are directly linked to deep wells that were used to dispose of liquid wastes produced by the hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" of natural gas. At least 177 similar disposal wells are located throughout Ohio.
The state shut down all drilling after a magnitude-4.0 quake hit Youngstown, Ohio on New Year's Eve day. It was the 11th quake in 2011 in the region, which is not located on a major fault. On the MSNBC website, Eric Niiler quotes geophysicist Art McGarr as saying, "It's reasonably clear that these Youngstown earthquakes are being caused by the disposal well activities. The earthquakes started in March of last year. That's about the same period that the major injection activities started."
Experts are also investigating a magnitude-5.6 earthquake east of Oklahoma City that has been linked to fracking.
Niiler quotes seismologist John Armbruster as saying that the well "is forcing the two sides apart and it starts to slip. The earthquake is the slip. When you operate one of these wells, you have to monitor it more carefully and see when it begins to cause earthquakes. If you shut it down, you are much more likely to prevent a damaging earthquake that would come later."
Niiler quotes McGarr as saying, "To the extent that our nation wants to become independent of meeting its energy needs in the coming years, the increased earthquakes are going to go along with that. The problems are only going to grow in the future."
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