A new paper due to be released by the Geological Survey of Canada argues that more than 90 percent of the large earthquakes being caused in Canada may be the result of fracking. Proponents of fracking have long argued that the intensive extraction process will not induce earthquakes, but mounting evidence says otherwise.

“Fracking” is a process by which high pressure water and chemicals are injected into cracks and holes in the earth. This forces natural gas and oil to the surface. The new study has discovered a link between hydraulic fracturing and the vast majority of the major earthquakes that have occurred in British Columbia and Alberta's oil fields since 1985.

Disturbing Fracking research?

Researchers examined every earthquake of a magnitude 3.0 or greater on the Richter scale since 1985. They also examined data from 12,289 hydraulically fractured wells. The researchers then found that more than 90 percent of the earthquakes appeared to be associated with a hydraulic well. Looking at the data further, scientists could only find links to seismic activity in roughly 5 to 10 percent of the earthquakes.

Fracking induced earthquakes appear to be caused both by the initial drilling process, and the re-injection of waste water back into the earth after the process is completed. In the United States, fracking is suspected of causing earthquakes in Oklahoma, California, Colorado, and elsewhere.

The full paper will be featured in the May-June issue of the journal of the Seismological Society of America.

Public opinion turning against fracking

Initially, fracking was viewed as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil, and to create jobs. With more and more research tying fracking to environmental damage, earthquakes, contaminated drinking water, and other problems, however, support has been steadily declining.

In the United States, 40 percent of Americans opposed fracking in 2015. Now, a majority of Americans, 51 percent, oppose the drilling method. Support has been drying up even among Republicans, who have been the staunchest supporters of the controversial extraction process.

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