BOB HIRSHON (host):
Human-induced earthquakes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Geologists now agree that human activities have caused the dramatic increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma and many other states. Geologist Danielle Sumy at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology or IRIS, explains that conventional oil drilling brings up large amounts of salt water along with the petroleum. Companies dispose of that water by injecting it deep underground. The problem is, most oil drilling is done near faults.
DANIELLE SUMY (IRIS: Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology):
To have a petroleum “play,” or an area that is going to have oil and gas, you actually need a structural barrier like a fault to be able to trap the oil and gas.
Under certain conditions, wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes in these faults. A new report by the USGS claims that while fluid from hydraulic fracking is a contributor, the main culprit is the greater volumes of water from conventional drilling. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.