Science

Waste water injection deep into the ground leads to Earthquakes at Oklahoma

In a new study, it has been revealed that the wastewater injected into the ground leads to frequent earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA. Most of the earthquakes occurring at Oklahoma are termed as man-made quakes because of their frequent occurrence.

During the last decade, a number of Earthquakes have occurred in Oklahoma. Scientists think that if the earthquakes were to be naturally occurring, then they would not have occurred so frequently. So they doubted that human activities have made Oklahoma a seismic hotspot for the past decade. The latest study claims that the man-made earthquakes in Oklahoma could be strongly linked to the depth at which wastewater from the gas and oil industries are injected into the ground.

The man-made earthquakes have heavily affected the lives of local residents and they pose an increased risk to critical infrastructure like an important commercial oil storage facility at Cushing. The local residents are always complaining against the well operators who constantly inject wastewater into the ground. The latest research regarding the connection of fluid injection depth to the Oklahoma’s seismicity was carried out by a group of researchers from the University of Bristol the University of Southampton, Delft University of Technology and Resources for the Future. The researchers found out that Oklahoma’s earthquakes are strongly linked to wastewater injection depth.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Thea Hincks, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said that their new modeling framework gives a targeted, evidential basis for managing a substantial reduction in induced seismicity in Oklahoma, with extensive possibilities for application elsewhere in the world. He thinks that their latest research will act as stepping stone for understanding the evolution of seismicity in Oklahoma.

For the research, the scientists collected data regarding injection and also data of Earthquake from the US Geological Survey and prepared a powerful computer simulated model. They took into account the connection between injection volume, depth, and location as well as the geographical features. The software that the team used was called Uninet which was developed by co-author Professor Roger Cooke’s team at the Delft University of Technology. The researchers looked at almost 10,000 wastewater injection wells where 96 billion gallons of fluid (from oil and gas factory are injected yearly. They found out that both the volume of the injected fuel and depth of the well play a major role in bringing Earthquakes in Oklahoma. More injection volume and deeper wells are more likely to cause earthquakes, as per the study. The latest study was published in the journal Science.

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