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2011 Texas Earthquakes Raise Concern Over Hydraulic Fracking

According to reports, west Texas has recorded its third earthquake in less than a month. The U.S. Geological Survey has reported a 3.2 magnitude earthquake on December 18, 2011 at 9 a.m. Reportedly, the earthquake was centered 5 miles north-northeast of Snyder, in Scurry County. Sources say this area is 78 miles southeast of Lubbock, Texas. Local authorities say there were no immediate reports of injury or damage. Sources say a 3.4 magnitude quake also occurred on December 9, 2011. Reportedly, this earth quake was centered 15 miles north of Snyder. Reportedly, another quake was recorded two days prior with a magnitude of 2.7 around 29 miles southwest of Dallas. The USGS also reported a 3.0 magnitude quake was centered 17 miles north-northeast of Snyder on November 21, 2011. Sources say a rare South Texas earthquake happened on October 27, 2011 with a 4.8 magnitude and epicenter about 37 miles northwest of Beeville.

Further, according to reports, the recent earthquake pandemic is not limited to the state of Texas. Geological scholars say that until this year Youngstown, Ohio has been seismically dead since the 18th century. However, on March 17, 2011, two minor quakes briefly shook the city. Further, in the next eight months, sources say there were seven more quakes. Reportedly, like the Texas quakes, they were too weak to cause damage or even be felt by many people but were strong enough to rattle some nerves.

Experts say nine quakes in eight months in a seismically inactive area is extremely unusual. However, it is what seismologists found when they plotted the Ohio quakes epicenters that have raised concern. According to Ohio seismologists, most of the earth quake epicenters coincided with the location of a 9,000-foot well in an industrial lot along the Mahoning River two miles from downtown Youngstown. Reportedly, at the well, a local company has been disposing of brine and other liquids from natural gas wells used in a process called hydraulic fracking. Industry authorities say hydraulic fracturing is a process used to unlock the gas from shale rock.

Sources say the location and timing of the quakes led to suspicions that the well was responsible for Youngstown's seismic awakening. Some experts believe as the wastewater was injected into the well under pressure, some of it might have migrated into deeper rock formations, unclamping ancient faults and allowing the rock to slip.

Reportedly, hydraulic fracturing has come under fire from environmentalists and others for its potential to pollute the air and contaminate drinking water. However, the events in Youngstown and a string of other small tremors in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, British Columbia and other shale areas producing gas raise the disquieting notion that the technique could lead, directly or indirectly, to a damaging earthquake. However, many scientists say the likelihood of a link between fracking and earthquakes is extremely remote. These scientists say that thousands of fracking and disposal wells operate nationwide without causing earthquakes, and that the relatively shallow depths of these wells mean that any earthquakes that are triggered would be minor.