Hydraulic fracturing is responsible for an uptick in earthquakes in the Permian Basin in west Texas, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin. This study is fueling debate over the practice of injecting water, sand, and chemicals into underground rock to extract gas, better known as fracking.
Scientists at the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program believe several earthquakes in Reeves, Pecos and Culberson counties could be linked to fracking activity. Given the role fracking plays in the oil and gas boom, the research has provoked widespread interest in Texas.
The study’s findings contradict previous research that identified saltwater disposal wells as the main cause of the quakes. “The research done through this new study in west Texas, using a statistical approach to associate earthquakes with oil and gas operations, suggests that some earthquakes are more likely related to hydraulic fracturing than saltwater disposal,” comments Alexandros Sabbaidas, manager of the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program.