Lately, much of the buzz surrounding hydraulic fracturing (fracking) deals with ground water contamination issues and air emissions—that is certainly the main topic of discussion in Southeastern Louisiana. Oklahoma on the other hand is dealing with an additional consequence of fracking that is less talked about in the South—earthquakes. In fact, as of June 2014, Oklahoma has had more earthquakes than California, and by a lot. Since June of 2014, Oklahoma has had 190 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater, compared with only 71 in California. It’s almost certain that this is due to dewatering which is a process associated with fracking.
As Eric Hand, reporting for Science explains:
The vast majority of Oklahoma’s more than 9000 injection wells cause no trouble whatsoever. Not so with four high-volume disposal wells used in a dewatering operation near Oklahoma City, the study suggests. The wells pump more than 4 million barrels (477,000 cubic meters) of water into the ground every month. Katie Keranen, a geophysicist at Cornell University, and colleagues found that the four wells are capable of triggering the earthquakes. By combining precise maps of Jones swarm earthquakes with a hydrogeologic model, they showed that an expanding underground wave of pressure from the wells (named Chambers, Flower Power, Deep Throat, and Sweetheart) closely matched the places and times of the quakes in the swarm.