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Study suggests connection between earthquakes, fracking

A recent study suggests a connection between the natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and earthquakes, according to the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post reports that researchers used temporary seismographs to detect earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or higher over a two-year period in a geologic area of Texas called the Barnett Shale.

Study author Cliff Frohlich identified 68 earthquakes in the study area, which was more than eight times as many as the U.S. National Earthquake Center found over the same period from November 2009 to September 2011. Of those 68 earthquakes, 23 were located within about two miles of high-volume injection wells involved in fracking.

The fracking process involves injecting chemically treated water deep below the earth’s surface to break up rock formations and release natural gas. It’s controversial because the fracking water contains toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene. Many residents in the areas where it occurs are worried that it may contaminate drinking water.

Environmentalists have also raised concerns that fracking may trigger earthquakes.

According to the Huffington Post, Frohlich noted the Barnett Shale encompasses more than 100 wells with similar injection rates that experienced no nearby earthquakes during the study period. He suggested that fracking may trigger earthquakes only if fluids reach and relieve friction on a nearby fault.

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale – a rock formation that extends into parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

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