Volume of fracking fluid pumped underground tied to Canada quakes | Science News

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Volume of fracking fluid pumped underground tied to Canada quakes

Study shows fluid buildup, not injection rate, triggered hundreds of temblors around Fox Creek

By
2:16pm, January 18, 2018
fracked well

PUMP DOWN  Hydraulic fracturing operations pump a mix of water, sand and other materials into the ground to ease the retrieval of oil and gas from the rock layers. New research is looking into the link between fracking and earthquakes.  

Fracking wells should not go to 11. Instead, turning down the volume — that is, of water pumped underground to help retrieve oil and gas — may reduce the number of earthquakes related to hydraulic fracturing.

The amount of water pumped into fracking wells is the No. 1 factor related to earthquake occurrence at Fox Creek, a large oil and gas production site in central Canada, researchers report January 19 in Science. An injection of 10,000 cubic meters of fluid or more at a well appears to trigger a quake.

Fox Creek sits atop the Duvernay Formation, a sedimentary layer rich in oil and gas. Before December 2013, the area was earthquake-free. Since then, hundreds of earthquakes have shaken the region; most were below magnitude 4, but a magnitude 4.8 quake in 2016 temporarily shut down operations.

Previous investigations revealed that fracking well injections at the

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