Can we cause earthquakes? Is there any way to prevent earthquakes?
Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented at many locations in the United States and in many other countries around the world. Earthquakes can be induced by a wide range of causes including impoundment of reservoirs, surface and underground mining, withdrawal of fluids and gas from the subsurface, and injection of fluids into underground formations. While most induced earthquakes are small and present little hazard, larger and potentially damaging manmade earthquakes have occurred in the past.
The hazard posed by manmade earthquakes can be mitigated by minimizing or in some cases stopping the activity that is causing the earthquakes to occur. For example, earthquakes linked to wastewater disposal in deep wells in Colorado, Ohio and Arkansas stopped occurring after injection was halted.
We cannot prevent natural earthquakes from occurring but we can significantly mitigate their effects by identifying hazards, building safer structures, and providing education on earthquake safety. By preparing for natural earthquakes we can also reduce the risk from human induced earthquakes.
Can the position of the moon or the planets affect seismicity? Are there more earthquakes in the morning/in the evening/at a certain time of the month?
USGS map displaying potential to experience damage from a natural or human-induced earthquake in 2016. Chances range from less than one percent to 12 percent.
Research has identified 17 areas in the central and eastern United States with increased rates of induced seismicity.
Research has identified 17 areas in the central and eastern United States with increased rates of induced seismicity. Since 2000, several of these areas have experienced high levels of seismicity, with substantial increases since 2009 that continue today.
Bryant Platt digs a hole to install seismometers at a home in southern Kansas. Seismometers are in the foreground.