The fracking operation of a natural gas company in Pennsylvania was found to cause earthquakes in the western part of the state.
The owner of the operation, Hilcorp Energy Co., had the facility very near the earthquakes; however, no damage was reported. Regardless, fracking is known to be a method that can cause earthquakes. During fracking, natural gas or oil is extracted; thus, there is empty space underground that might cause sedimentation or collapse. Similarly, in Ohio and neighboring states, there had been a lot of earthquakes due to fracking, but never in Pennsylvania while it is the 2nd largest natural gas producer. Seth Pelepko, an official in the Department of Environmental Protection, said:
“This is the first time we have seen that sort of spatial and temporal correlation.”
After the earthquakes were observed, Hilcorp Energy stopped extracting the natural gas. Justin Furnace, Hilcorp’s spokesman, stated that there will be no more fracking on the site and work with the state if concerns raise.
In fact, there are many different ways of fracking: The one that the Hilcorp used was ‘zipper fracturing’. This method fracks two intersecting horizontal wells. Whatever the method, Hilcorp decided to stop fracking a quarter milenear the towns where the earthquakes occured to reduce the chance of a potential earthquake.
The DEP asked Hilcorp to use its seismix monitors while working near the townships in case of any earthquake that can delay fracking procedures.
This is not the first time that Hilcorp was accused of its fracking operations. There had been 77 earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio, where the magnitude was as large as 3.0. This magnitude does not hold a vital threat; however, it was clearly felt by the residents and raised concerns for the potential of a larger earthquake.
Pennsylvania is still one of the states under heavy dispute. Throughout the history, the earthquakes were generally seen in the southeastern part, whereas the gas fields are in the western and northeastern part.