Fracking 'not significant' cause of large earthquakes

A new study suggests that fracking is 'not a significant cause' of earthquakes that can be felt on the surface. Photo:

A new study suggests that fracking is 'not a significant cause' of earthquakes that can be felt on the surface.

The research, led by Durham University, found that the process has only caused earth tremors that could be felt on the surface in three cases.

The controversial drilling technique splits opinion, with those in favour say fracking is safe and could help stop us importing gas from abroad. Those against talk about pollution to our water supplies and claim it causes small earthquakes.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the method by which sedimentary rock is deliberately cracked to recover oil and gas, including shale gas.

In almost all cases, the seismic events caused by hydraulic fracturing have been undetectable other than by geoscientists. It is also low compared to other manmade triggers. Earthquakes caused by mining can range from a magnitude of 1.6 to 5.6, reservoir-filling from 2.0 to 7.9 and waste disposal from 2.0 to 5.7.

– Professor Richard Davies from Durham Energy Institute

But the study also established that fracking has the potential to reactivate dormant faults and described the probable ways in which the pumping of fracking fluid underground could trigger this.