Earthquakes have been happening across the world probably since the beginning of time. Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates laying beneath the crust and upper mantle of the Earth. The edges of these plates are rough and jagged so when they shift, they can get snagged. As the pressure of movement strains, the plate will eventually break free, causing an earthquake. Property owners who suffer damage and loss from these tremors may be entitled to file an Oklahoma fracking earthquake lawsuit seeking compensation for damages.
Today though, we know that earthquakes can be induced by human activities. And while humans have been causing temblors for decades, we haven’t always understood why. Today, we know that many of the things we do can have a seismic effect.
What Causes Man-Made Quakes
The simple explanation is that an induced earthquake is one caused by man-made activities. Some of the known human activities that may trigger seismicity include building skyscrapers, quarrying, building dams on waterways, coal mining, and natural gas and oil extraction. Other causes of human-induced quakes include tunnel excavation, deep well injection, research experiments, nuclear tests, and carbon dioxide sequestration.
In 1989, the first known fatal earthquake occurred near Newcastle, Australia, causing billions of dollars in damage to the city and surrounding areas and took the lives of 13 people. Now, researchers believe that quake was caused by nearly two centuries of coal mining operations in the area. Scientists say that mining can change the amount of stress that is put on a fault line, and can either remove the stress, allowing a fault to shift, or add stress that can also cause a shift in plates, including along unknown fault lines and ones that have been long-dormant.
In 2007, about 50 acres of the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah collapsed killing miners and rescuers. Researchers believe that mine operations caused the roof of the mine to give way, causing a 3.9 magnitude quake. Researchers believe that about 98 percent of the 17,000 earthquakes that were detected in Wasatch Plateau where the mine was located were caused by mining.
During the Great Depression years of 1931 to 1936, thousands of workers started and completed building the Hoover Dam. As Lake Mead filled behind the dam, the area experienced hundreds of tremors. Seismologists say that even today, seismic activities fluctuate in response to the level of water in the lake.
As hydraulic fracturing increased across the nation, certain regions have experienced a significant increase in seismic activity. Scientists say that fracking itself isn’t to blame for the increase in tremors and quakes, but that it’s actually how the waste from gas and oil extraction is disposed of. Wastewater from fracking operations are injected under extremely high pressure into wells carved deep into the Earth. This practice of deep-well injections is causing huge swarms of quakes across the Midwest. These quakes are causing damage to property owners everywhere, some of who have chosen to work with an Oklahoma fracking earthquake attorney to see if they are eligible to seek compensation for these damages.