Injecting fluids into the ground or extracting them has long been known to cause quakes, but rarely — if ever — have the two been caught acting in concert.

WFAA 8 ABC news reporter Byron Harris reported on the SMU-led team of seismologists whose recent study found that large volumes of wastewater injection combined with saltwater (brine) extraction from natural gas wells is the most likely cause of earthquakes near Azle, Texas, from late 2013 through spring 2014.

The study published in Nature Communications.

WFAA aired their segment, Geologists release details of Azle earthquakes study, April, 21, 2015.

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EXCERPT:

By Byron Harris
WFAA 8 ABC

The seismology team led by SMU that has been researching local earthquakes believes it’s found a cause for the ones that hit Azle a couple of years ago.

“Causal Factors for Seismicity near Azle, Texas” was published in Nature Communications. A press release about the findings of the study was released on Tuesday.

It states that the team at SMU found “high volumes of wastewater injection combined with saltwater (brine) extraction from natural gas wells is the most likely cause of earthquakes.”

Oil and gas drilling takes water out of the ground as a product of energy production. And that water is pumped back into the ground in wastewater injection wells. SMU geologists measured those activities, centered around the Newark East Gas Field north and east of Azle.

They found 70 energy-producing wells in the field, and two adjacent wastewater injection wells. Increased levels of water injection and withdrawal corresponded with the earthquakes, the report says.

The quakes hit Azle between late 2013 and spring of 2014. The town saw seven quakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher in that period. A 3D model was developed to investigate two intersecting faults and estimate stress changes.

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