Experts Exploring Link Between Natural Gas Drilling & Earthquakes


By David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some places that rarely have earthquakes are having them now, and officials have linked some of them to fracking or related activities.

While Marcellus Shale drilling has meant billions of dollars for Pennsylvania, across the state line in Ohio it’s also meant some shaking, according to state experts.

“There was a huge boom. This big crashing boom,” That’s how Valerie Dearing describes one of the larger quakes. She happens to be an anti-fracking activist, but others in Eastern Ohio felt it, too.

“I thought at first it might be a truck wreck or some kind of explosion,” said Dearing. “No, it was an earthquake.”

It was 2011, when a 4.0 earthquake shook Youngstown. Then this past March, the ground shook again: a 3.0 in Poland Township, closer to the Pennsylvania line.

Ray Beiersdorfer, a geology professor at Youngstown State, believes in the last four years that Ohio has actually had more than a thousand quakes. Mostly small ones you can’t feel.

He says you don’t have to be a scientist to put things together.

“My 80-year-old neighbor and my freshman college students say, ‘No, there have never been any earthquakes here. They start injecting, and now we’ve had the earthquakes,’” said Beiersdorfer.

The “injecting” he refers to has to do with fracking or related activities.

Fracking is a drilling process where a mixture of water, chemicals and sand are shot deep into the ground to open rock and extract fuel.

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