Earthquakes Follow Fracking, But Oddly Not in Montana
A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that at least eight states have experienced a spike in small earthquakes caused by fracking. Senior Research Geologist and Earthquake Studies Director Mike Stickney has been watching the seismic needle in Montana and says that Montana has a different story to tell.
"The reasons why are not necessarily well understood," Stickney said. "We certainly have oil and gas field activity, especially up in the northeast corner of the state, on the edge of the Bakken. Although that type of injection disposal is occurring in parts of Montana, we have not seen an associated increase of Earthquake activity like they have in other places, especially Oklahoma."
Stickney doesn’t know why Montana hasn’t experienced more induced earthquakes, but thinks the difference might be in where the excess fracking liquids are stored.
"As I understand it, many of the areas that are experiencing induced seismicity, they dispose of waste fluids at levels below where they are extracting from. It's just the opposite in the Bakken, the disposal field is still very deep, several thousand feet below the surface, but it is above the extraction zone."
Stickney said there have been a few small earthquakes detected in Montana that could have been caused by fracking activity, but because there is a nearby fault, it is very difficult to tell got the quakes started.