Texas on Short List for Fracking-Induced Earthquakes

New Maps Plot Texas Earthquake Risk
New Maps Plot Texas Earthquake Risk

New maps outline the threat of potential human-induced earthquakes in Texas.

Related: Fracking Rules Tightened in North Texas

Until a few short years ago, earthquakes in Texas were virtually non-existent. But since 2008 there has been an increase in seismic activity, leaving many to wonder whether they are a direct result of oil and gas activity in the region.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is adding more fuel to the debate with a recently released forecast for 2016 that include maps identifying potential seismic events from both human-induced and natural earthquakes.

This is the first time that these maps have added the human-induced competent, with wastewater disposal from fracking considered to be the primary cause.

By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.,” said Mark Petersen, Chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. “This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.

The maps show that the most significant hazards from induced seismicity are in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas. The Eagle Ford shows a less than 1% chance of any type of seismic activity, either manmade or natural.

Last year, SMU released a study that concluded oil and gas operations are causing the tremors that began rattling the North Texas towns of Azle and Reno. and, just last week, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers tightened fracking regulations near a North Texas Dam over concerns that the dam might be in danger.

Even under a mountain of evidence, the Texas Railroad Commission continues to be skeptical of the link between fracking and earthquakes and has publicly questioned the mounting scientific evidence of the link.

Read more at usgs.gov