Science, Tech & Environment

Waste Water from Oil Extraction Can Cause Earthquakes

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Oklahoma oil well (Photo: Clinton Steeds/Flickr)

A growing number of companies around the globe are using hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, as a procedure to extract natural gas and oil.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

At the same time, local communities – here in the US, but also in other countries – fiercely oppose the practice because of concerns about ground water pollution and earthquakes.

A new study in the journal Geology adds more reason to worry.

It shows that the largest recorded earthquake in Oklahoma – a magnitude 5.6 temblor in November 2011 – was caused by the underground injection of waste water from oil drilling.

Anchor Marco Werman speaks with journalist David Biello, of Scientific American about the implications of these findings on fracking efforts across the globe, as well as other oil and natural gas extraction procedures.

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