Is Fracking to Blame for the Earthquakes in East Texas? [POLL]
After a 3.7-magnitude earthquake hit East Texas last week, some started speculating the quake could have been caused by fracking during oil and gas exploration. One meteorologist said it could be the case, too, and after this morning’s shake — the second in as many weeks — the question is being asked even more if fracking is to blame.
Jason Hansford, senior meteorologist at the National Weather Center in Shreveport, told KTRE in Lufkin last week the theory of earthquakes being caused by fracking was a relevant one.
“It could be fracking issues,” Hansford told the TV station. “It’s just a theory, but we don’t have any significant fault lines.”
But while the causes of these earthquakes remains unknown, earthquakes in East Texas are more common than you might think, which puts heavy doubt into the theory that oil and gas exploration is causing the quakes.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Texas is in the top 20 states for earthquakes, even ahead of Oklahoma. And while earthquakes have been more common in the panhandle and western regions of Texas, occurrences have been recorded in our part of the state, too.
The strongest earthquake in East Texas, according to the USGS, was on March 19, 1957, was a 4.7-magnitude quake that was centered in Diana, but was felt as far away as Magnolia, Ark. KLTV meteorologist Grant Dade said this morning’s earthquake would be the third-largest in East Texas history.
And in 1964, the Texas-Louisiana border region — not far from where the last two earthquakes’ epicenters were located (near Timpson) — an entire series of quakes shook the region. From the U.S. Geological Survey:
A series of moderate earthquakes in the Texas – Louisiana border region near Hemphill started on April 23, 1964. Epicenters were determined on April 23, 24, 27, and 28. There were numerous additional shocks reported felt at Pineland, Hemphill, and Milam. The only damage reported was from the magnitude 4.4 earthquake on April 28 – wall paper and plaster cracked at Hemphill (V). The magnitude of the other epicenters changed from 3.4 to 3.7. Shocks were also felt at Pineland on April 30 and May 7. On June 2, three more shocks were reported in the same area. The strongest was measured at magnitude 4.2; intensities did not exceed IV. Another moderate earthquake on August 16 awakened several people at Hemphill and there were some reports of cracked plaster (V). The shock was also felt at Bronson, Geneva, Milam, and Pineland.
Hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — is using pressurized liquid to fracture rocks and bring out minerals in the earth, or in our area, mostly natural gas and some oil. It is a practice often questioned and criticized due to safety concerns and hazards it poses to water and other natural resources.
Many reports have surfaced recently, including those from the U.S. Geological Survey, that the nation has experienced a dramatic increase in earthquakes over the past several years and fracking is “almost certainly” tied to the trend.
So, what do you think?