Earthquake Answers | VideoJennifer Joas | 10/2/2012
According to the US Geological Survey, both fracking and the injection of wastewater can cause earthquakes. In fact, the agency reports that "There is a credible connection between the wastewater injection activities near Youngstown (Ohio) and the recent earthquakes, including the magnitude 4 earthquake that occurred on New Year`s Eve, 2011."
But despite North Dakota having 390 salt water disposal wells, with the closest being just seven miles from the recent earthquake, state geologists say a connection is unlikely.
"It`s very consistent with earthquakes that have happened in the past in northwestern North Dakota, particularly in the Williston area. And we don`t see any additional seismic activity associated with it. We don`t see any foreshocks and we don`t have any after shocks," said Department of Mineral Resources geologist Fred Anderson.
Anderson says another tell tale sign there is no link in states like Ohio and Colorado, that have disposal related earthquakes, dispose of their salt water much deeper near the fault line than wells in North Dakota.
So if this earthquake is not attributed to disposal wells, could we have a related earthquake in the future?
"It`s certainly something that we would always keep our eyes open. And try to better understand. I do think based on the geology here we`re in a unique situation and the geology seems favorable for a lot of the development activities and opportunities we pursue," Anderson said.
Anderson says he believes the earthquake was a more natural occurrence, like previous quakes over the decades.
North Dakota does not have the resources to study future quakes in oil country. They rely on the USGS and Montana to provide reports of occurences.