Fracking waste and quakes

Underground storage of liquid waste from these mining operations can make an area more vulnerable to tremors

By Stephen Ornes, 13:53 PM July 26, 2013

 

Red and orange areas in this U.S. map show places with the highest risk from naturally occurring earthquakes. The black dots on the map show where earthquakes struck between 2009 and 2012. Green and yellow areas have a lower risk from quakes. Credit: Science/AAAS

 

Earthquake activity has spiked recently in parts of the central United States where shale rock is increasingly being mined for natural gas and oil. Most of the quakes are small and don’t cause damage. But some of the small shakes may be signs that a larger one will strike soon in the area, scientists now report.

 

These small central U.S. quakes have been occurring near sites of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking is one way companies draw natural gas or mixes of other hydrocarbons (s...

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