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Oilfield Wastewater Disposed Underground Induces Stronger Earthquakes

Virginia Tech scientists have found that in regions where oilfield wastewater disposal is widespread — and where injected water has a higher density than deep naturally occurring fluids — earthquakes are getting deeper at the same rate as the wastewater sinks.  Perhaps more critically, the research team of geoscientists found that the percentage of high-magnitude earthquakes increases with depth, and may create — although fewer in number — greater magnitude earthquakes years after injection rates decline or stop altogether.  The study, led by Ryan M. Pollyea in the Virginia Tech College of Science’s Department of Geosciences, was published July 16 in Nature Communications. It shows that in areas such as Oklahoma and southern Kansas there is evidence that oilfield wastewater injected underground into the Arbuckle formation has a much higher density than natural fluids occurring within the deeper seismogenic zone faults.  Read more....

 

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