Are Arkansas' Natural Gas Injection Wells Causing Earthquakes?


Earthquake 'Felt Like You Were on a Roller Coaster'

Another resident, Susan Frey, described what it was like to be inside her home during one of the quakes.

"You felt like you were on a roller coaster or going down a hill or sitting on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean with somebody rocking the boat," she said.

Frey said the earthquakes became so frequent that she installed a plumb line to keep track of the ground's movements. She then recorded and posted the results on YouTube.

Ausbrooks said the area around Guy has had more than 1,100 earthquakes since September 2010. He said that the earthquakes are rattling the Arkansas countryside in part of what's known as the Fayetteville shale.

Since 2005, more than 3,000 gas wells have been drilled in this area, according to the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. While these wells provide thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue to a destitute part of the country, Fox said they also produce tons of contaminated water -- an issue he widely addressed in "Gasland."

While in Arkansas, Fox said he will investigate a theory that the tremors can be traced to how wastewater from the thousands of "fracking" wells is handled.

Cracking the Cause of the Arkansas Quakes

Injection wells have pumped millions of gallons of wastewater -- the equivalent of a 30-acre lake -- deep into the ground, but gas companies insist no scientific evidence links the injection wells to earthquakes and that some quakes were recorded in the region before the wells were drilled.

Ausbrooks placed seismometers in parks and private backyards to get real-time data, and discovered the quakes are taking place along a new fault line that measured seven and a half miles long.

"If that was to rupture at all one time," he said, "then you could generate, theoretically, up to a magnitude 5.7 to 6.0 [earthquake]. ... It potentially could be a very dangerous earthquake, given the population area right here."

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