Fracking the likely cause of US earthquakes

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A review by the Ohio Government in the United States says several small earthquakes in the region last year were probably caused by fracking.

According to Reuters the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which regulates the oil and gas industry, said while extremely rare fracking had "induced seismic activity" late last year.

In its report the organisation called on the Ohio Government to pass a new law prohibiting drilling at the Precambrian rock level, which begins at 2,799 metres.

The pro-industry regulator said it had found "geological evidence" to support the claim fracking had started earthquakes last year.

"A number of coincidental circumstances appear to make a compelling argument that the Youngstown earthquakes were induced," it said.

According to the report well operators had requested two increases to injection pressure at sites near an underground fault, and earthquakes had happened soon after.

It recommended companies be forced to "review existing geologic data" in the future before drilling.

It also called on the Government to introduce monitoring systems with automatic shut-off for drill sites.

According to Reuters the sites in question were used to dispose water from oil and gas wells, and remain in a moratorium after a series of earthquakes, culminating in a 4.0 magnitude quake, were recorded in the region last year.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has previously endorsed the safety of hydraulic fracturing.

"Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in more than 1 million US wells," it says on its website.

"Since 1990, more than 15,000 Ohio wells have used hydraulic fracturing."

"During that time the Division of Mineral Resources Management has conducted a number of water well investigation complaints — none of the investigations revealed problems due to hydraulic fracturing." 

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