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Ohio Tightens Fracking Regulations

By April 11, 2014

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Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the well-publicized process by which "tight" rocks can be made to produce oil and gas. It involves explosives, and in a handful out of approximately a million cases small earthquakes have resulted as existing stresses in unmapped faults were released. One of those exceedingly rare cases happened in Ohio last month, and the authorities revised the regulations today to ensure greater caution when the signs arise again.

Now, when permits are issued for drilling within 3 miles of areas of known seismicity (magnitude 2 events, which are usually barely felt), the drillers must install seismic monitors. When the monitors detect events of magnitude 1, drilling stops while the cause is investigated. Interested groups approve: the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission calls it "a sensible response to a serious issue" and the Groundwater Protection Council says "these additional standards add even more strength to Ohio's already comprehensive regulatory program."


April 12, 2014 at 1:49 am
(1) @geologistix says:

Fracking should be investigated further. There are still a whole lot of consequences we don’t know about

April 14, 2014 at 7:19 am
(2) MichaelL says:

Over a million wells have been hydraulically fractured since 1947 and that we still seem to have clean ground water in Texas and other O&G areas. Hydraulic fracturing isn’t new.

April 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm
(3) John R. Wright, Ph.D. says:

I’m a retired chemistry professor with enough interest in geoscience to take a course in geology and actually build a working seismometer. I’m not an activist against fracking because we need to be as energy independent as possible. But having once lived in Oklahoma, I’m curious about what’s going on out there because recently there have been numerous quakes in the mag. 3 and 4 range north of Oklahoma City (a 4.3 and higher puts my recordings offscale even here in North Central Arkansas, about one seismic minute away from those quakes!). I read somewhere that a mag. 4 quake is roughly equivalent to a 1 kiloton nuclear explosion. That seems like a lot of energy, perhaps substantially more than might be used even over a long time of pumping wastewater into deep wells or to carry out a well fracturing process. Is that reasonable speculation? Week to week the quakes often line up along a NNW/SSE trend line, so I wonder if they might be pumping into a fairly active system of faults. I love your articles. Geology and seismology are fascinating subjects and totally practical.

April 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm
(4) Tembo says:

How many wells have been hydraulically fractured, and how many earthquakes have occurred as a result? And, is the frequency of earthquakes going up, or down, or staying the same?

April 15, 2014 at 11:15 am
(5) Robert Kitchen says:

There has to be strict regulation of those who are fracking. Certainly we need more study of the whole process. The drilling companies have to be held strictly responsible for any damage associated with the process.

April 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm
(6) norm says:

As an old fracker (80s vintage), I suspect that just about every well is going to trigger a bit of shaking. Stopping a frack job once you are pushing water and sand ‘down hole’ is not like turning off a light switch, the frack material is going to flow until it runs out of push. The magnitude one standard might be low.

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