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Shaking the Ground

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) correlated a series of small earthquakes near Snyder, Texas, between 2006 and 2011 with the underground injection of large volumes of gas, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)—a finding that is relevant to the process of capturing and storing CO2 underground.

Although the study suggests that underground injection of gas triggered the Snyder earthquakes, it also points out that similar rates of injections have not triggered comparable quakes in other fields, bolstering the idea that underground gas injection does not cause significant seismic events in many geologic settings.

No injuries or severe damage were reported from the quakes identified in the study.

The study represents the first time underground gas injection has been correlated with earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.

The results, from UTIG’s Wei Gan and Cliff Frohlich, appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.