Hazard a Guess? The riskiest science quiz you will ever take!

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What is causing most of the induced earthquakes (aka man-made earthquakes) we’ve seen recently in the central United States?

  1. Fracking
  2. Disposal of wastewater
  3. Pumping of oil and gas
  4. It's unknown at this time

To see the answer, scroll down below the image.

USGS Forecast for Damage from Natural and Induced Earthquakes in 2016

The correct answer is the disposal of wastewater. Water that is salty or polluted by chemicals needs to be disposed of in a manner that prevents it from contaminating freshwater sources. It is usually most economical to isolate and inject it into deep underground wells, below any aquifers that provide drinking water. Wastewater disposal is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States.

Most wastewater currently disposed of across the nation is saltwater that is a byproduct of the oil and gas extraction process. Saltwater is found in nearly every oil and gas production well, regardless of whether the well has been hydraulically fractured (known as fracking).

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