Injection wells blamed in Oklahoma earthquakes

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Science  04 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6192, pp. 13-14
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6192.13

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So far in 2014, Oklahoma has seen more earthquakes than California—and seismologists are increasingly blaming them on the injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations. A study published online this week in Science links four of Oklahoma's most prolific wastewater wells to a swarm of 2547 small earthquakes near Jones, Oklahoma, by showing how the wells sent a wave of water pressure coursing through the subsurface. The pressure can reduce forces acting to keep faults locked and trigger earthquakes. Although the hazard of induced earthquakes is uncertain, regulators in Oklahoma and elsewhere are starting to limit well operations and require more frequent reporting of well data.