Asher Price | Austin American-Statesman for McClatchy
AUSTIN, Texas — Using newly available technology, a University of Texas seismologist tracking small earthquakes in the Barnett Shale play area of North Texas has found a correlation between geological disturbances and the sort of injection wells that are associated with hydraulic fracturing, according to research appearing this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cliff Frohlich, associate director of UT’s Institute for Geophysics, looked at quakes magnitude 3.0 or smaller December 2009 to August 2011. Earthquake seismologists have identified a relationship between certain human activity – the construction of massive lakes, for instance – and seismic activity since at least the 1940s.
“Occasionally, people say to me, ‘It’s impossible that humans can cause earthquakes,’” Frohlich told the American-Statesman. “In my community, that’s long-established.” Frohlich found that the most reliably located earthquakes – those accurate to within roughly a mile – occurred in eight groups, all within 2 miles of one or more of high-production injection wells.