This brief provides an overview of the key causes of earthquakes related to oil and gas activities, along with how new technologies and policies can reduce the risks.
- Disposal of oil and gas wastewater has recently caused thousands of earthquakes in the United States, particularly in Oklahoma.
- Most other producing regions have experienced little or no seismicity due to oil and gas activities.
- Most quakes have not caused damage, but several of magnitude 5.0 and above have damaged property.
- Hydraulic fracturing can also cause quakes directly, but these have been smaller and less frequent.
- Proactive monitoring and policy can substantially reduce, though likely not eliminate, the risks from induced quakes.