PinP has learned that, years before “fracking” was blamed for a significant earthquake in northern Alberta early this year, a whole series of somewhat smaller quakes was happening in the Horn River Basin of northeastern BC, where fracking reached a peak some four years ago.
Researchers representing the Geological Survey of Canada and the BC Oil and Gas Commission reviewed seismographs from the area from 2002 to 2011. They conclude there is a “high likelihood of a physical relationship” between the quakes and the fracking. They detected only 24 local quakes in the Basin in ’02 and ’03, before fracking began. But, by 2011, when fracking peaked, that number had jumped to 131. And so had the magnitude - from 2.9 (on the Richter scale) before fracking, to 3.6 afterward.
Then this past January, Alberta’s energy regulator blamed fracking for an earthquake in the northern part of that province, near Fox Creek. According to the CBC, it was “of 4.4 magnitude, severe enough to cause minor damage.” It was described as the worst quake of its kind ever attributed to fracking.
Fracking is another term for “hydraulic fracturing.” It’s a technique used in the energy industry. Water and chemicals are injected under tremendous pressure into underground shale formations, forcing the natural gas in them to the surface. Groups such as Physicians for Social Responsibility, have expressed a host of concerns about the practice, including the toxic nature of the chemicals which are suspected of polluting underground wellwater. Fracking has spread to many areas of the world over the past decades, including Canada.
Which begs the question, just how many other earthquakes linked to fracking may already be occurring in Canada, which we haven't even heard about yet?