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Does fracking cause earthquakes?

Most induced earthquakes are not directly caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States is primarily caused by disposal of waste fluids that are a byproduct of oil production.

Wastewater disposal wells typically operate for longer durations and inject much more fluid than is injected during the hydraulic fracturing process, making them more likely to induce earthquakes. In Oklahoma, which has the most induced earthquakes in the United States, 2% of earthquakes can be linked to hydraulic fracturing operations. Given the high rate of seismicity in Oklahoma, this means that there are still many earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing. The remaining earthquakes are induced by wastewater disposal. The largest earthquake known to be induced by hydraulic fracturing in the United States was a magnitude 4.0 earthquake that occurred in 2018 in Texas.

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