Could Oil and Gas be the Cause of Earthquakes?

Published Date : Jun 19, 2015

There was an earthquake that measured 3.0 in Oklahoma last year. Before 2008 the state had an average of one or two. 

Stanford University geophysicists claim that oil and gas drilling caused the earthquakes. The offender could be the brackish fluid that appears on the surface along with oil and gas and that is later disposed deep within the earth as waste. If the findings are correct then the extended discussion about oil and gas causing seismic eruptions will conclude.

The link between the oil drilling and earthquakes seem to be an actual fact and in the human mind. The article in the magazine “Popular Mechanics” written in 1944 explained that energy related companies used dynamite for ascertaining if there was oil in a certain area and this process created miniature earthquakes.  During World War 1 and the Vietnam War chemical weapons were made by the United States. The produced waste was put on a patch of soil to evaporate. The waste soaked into the ground contaminated drinking water. Then in 1961, a 12,000 feet well near Denver was injected with chemicals that amounted to millions of gallons. During the next 5 years there were more than 700 earthquakes and most epicenters were near the well. So the speculation was that the two incidents were related.

Oil and gas requires injection of wastewater in large quantities into the ground. Oil and gas production in U.S. has expanded and hydraulic fracturing has increased and it can be assumed that this method of oil drilling is causing earthquakes. The process involves water and chemical solution to be injected that makes cracks in the shale and which makes the oil and gas emerge.  Researchers in Stanford University feel that these fluids are not causing earthquakes but the water that is produced that comes out is the cause of earthquakes.