White papers address potential of injection-induced earthquakes

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, Nov. 8, 2013 -- For the past several years, the topic of induced seismicity, or earthquakes caused by human activities -- in particular hydraulic fracturing and disposal wells -- has been the source of heightened interest.

To help disseminate factual information on the subject, the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and its research arm, the Ground Water Research and Education Foundation (GWREF), released two white papers summarizing important details of the controversial subject. Both white papers can be found here.

The first white paper has been available since last winter. The second white paper is available as of today and lists eight major issues and findings including the following:

  • While many of the seismic events are naturally occurring, some can be triggered by human activities, often from injection of fluids.  
  • Agencies and industry groups are working together to find ways to reduce the risk of induced seismicity by injection.
  • Most state regulatory agencies do not have regulations that focus specifically on induced seismicity. However, a few states have recently developed regulations following earthquakes associated with disposal wells and while other states are developing best practices.

GWPC and GWREF indicate that various earthquakes have been observed in Oklahoma and elsewhere, possibly linked to disposal wells. The white papers are intended to provide an overview of the topics covered and opinions expressed during the company's 2013 Underground Injection Control Conference in Sarasota, Florida on January 22-24, 2013.

Also read, "Underground Unrest: USGS Examines Connection Between Earthquakes and Injection Wells."

About the GWREF: The Ground Water Research & Education Foundation is an arm of the Ground Water Protection Council and provides a forum for stakeholder communication and research in order to improve governments' role in the protection and conservation of groundwater.

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