News & AnalysisSeismology

Some Earthquakes Warn That They Are About to Strike

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Science  12 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6142, pp. 117-118
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6142.117

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The bad news that injecting wastewater deep into the crust can set off earthquakes has now been leavened by a bit of good news. In the past few years, the frequency of moderate-sized earthquakes has surged in the central United States and other areas where wastewater from "fracking" for gas and oil is pumped into the deep earth for disposal. Now, seismologists have found that some of the largest quakes induced by deep injection are preceded by a warning sign: a swarm of smaller tremors.