Does Hydraulic Fracturing Cause Seismic Activity? Essay

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The United States has an immense amount of proven natural gas reserves that could become a major source for the nation's energy future (1). The mining of the natural gas resources have become feasible and cheaper due to the advancement of hydraulic fracturing technologies which have increased the amount the extraction and enabled “greater access to gas in shale formations” (2). Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking of shale formations has positive benefits that includes economic growth and the natural gas extracted is cleaner than coal and oil, however it has caused serious environmental problems and possibly could be the cause of recent seismic activity in areas where fracking operations exist (3).
Gas in shale formations are“low in permeability,” making it very tedious to extract, but with the increase in technological knowledge in fracking and horizontally drilling into shale beds, the vast reserves of natural gas resource could be extracted (4). Fracking is a large industrial operation that boost the “productivity of a oil or gas well” (5). It is a process by which, under very high pressure, a mixture of water, chemicals, and sand, are pumped into shale formations that causes fractures in the rocks to open wider or create new fractures that would allow otherwise trapped oil and gas to flow into the wells (6).
There are concerns that fracking could be the causation of earthquakes. In areas where fracking operations occur and earthquakes are not the norm, there has been instances of seismic activity. For example, before 2011, the last seismic activity experienced by small town in Ohio named Youngstown was in 1776, but in a span of months during 2011, more than 100 instances of seismic activity ranging from 2.7 to 3.9 on the Ric...

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..., 9 Sept. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.
4. Montgomery, Carla W. Environmental Geology. 9th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. Print.
5. "What Is Fracking and Why Is It Controversial?" BBC News. BBC, 27 June 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
6. "The Environmental Impact of Hydraulic Fracking." N.p., 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
7. Lobello, Carmel. "Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?"Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 06 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.
8. Upton, John. "Fracking Triggered More than 100 Earthquakes in Ohio."Grist. N.p., 5 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.
9. Upton, John. "Oil Industry Likely Triggered Big 2011 Oklahoma Earthquake, Scientists Find."Grist. N.p., 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.
10. Begley, Sharon. "Research Shows Quakes in 3 States Were Caused by Fracking."Research Shows Quakes in 3 States Were Caused by Fracking. Reuters, 11 July 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.

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