Study links fracking to Alberta earthquakes

Studies by geophysicist Jeff Gu have found a link between earthquakes in Northern Alberta and fracking activity.

Suzette Chan - 10 November 2014

(Edmonton) A University of Alberta geophysics study has found evidence of earthquakes in southwestern Alberta and a wastewater disposal well.

"Certainly that region is not immune to earthquake faulting, but I would say having actual earthquakes in that area is relatively recent, relatively new," geophysicist Jeffrey Gu told CBC News after a 3.0-magnitude earthquake was recorded in Northern Alberta on November 2.

Gu and Alberta Geological Survey scientists Virginia Stern and Ryan Schultz co-authored a paper called "An investigation of seismicity clustered near the Cordel Field, west central Alberta, and its relation to a nearby disposal well" that was recently published by The Journal of Geophysical Research. Schultz, who is the first author of the study, was a University of Alberta graduate student under Professor Gu's supervison.

Gu and his team have been monitoring the area for seismic activity since 2006. They found a pattern of increased seismic activity about three years after each incident of wastewater injection, commonly known as "fracking."

"The results of our analysis provide first-order evidence that the seismicity is consistent with fluid injection-induced events," their paper concludes.