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McDONALD, Ohio — Officials said Saturday they believe the latest earthquake activity in northeast Ohio is related to the injection of wastewater into the ground near a fault line, creating enough pressure to cause seismic activity.

The brine wastewater comes from drilling operations that use the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale. But Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said during a news teleconference that fracking is not causing the quakes.

"The seismic events are not a direct result of fracking," he said.

Environmentalists and property owners who live near gas drilling wells have questioned the safety of fracking to the environment and public health. Federal regulators have declared the technology safe, however.

Zehringer said four injection wells within a five-mile radius of an already shuttered well in Youngstown will remain inactive while further scientific research is conducted.

A 4.0 magnitude quake Saturday afternoon in McDonald, outside of Youngstown, was the 11th in a series of minor earthquakes in area, many of which have struck near the Youngstown injection well. The quake caused no serious injuries or property damage, Zehringer said.

Thousands of gallons of brine were injected into the well daily until its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, agreed Friday to stop injecting brine into the earth as a precaution while authorities assess any potential links to the quakes.

Michael Hansen of the Ohio Seismic Network said Saturday that more quakes are possible, most likely small ones, until the pressure at the fault line has been completely relieved.

The temblor Saturday appeared to be stronger than others, which generally had a magnitude of 2.7 or lower. Some residents reported feeling trembling farther south into Columbiana County and east into western Pennsylvania.

Area residents said a loud boom accompanied the shaking. It sent some stunned residents running for cover as bookshelves shook and pictures and lamps fell from tables.

A few miles from the epicenter, Charles Kihm said he was preparing food in his kitchen when he heard a noise and thought a vehicle had hit his Austintown home.

"It really shook, and it rumbled, like there was a sound," said Kihm, 82. "It was loud. It didn't last long. But it really scared me."

There are 177 similar injection wells around the state, and the Youngstown-area well has been the only site with seismic activity, the department said. Zehringer said that to shut down all of the wells because of seismic activity near one would be an overreaction.

Patti Gorcheff, who lives about 15 miles from the epicenter, said her dogs started barking inexplicably Saturday and the ornaments on her Christmas tree began to shake. Her husband thought he heard the sound of some sort of blast.

"This is the biggest one we've had so far," said Gorcheff, a North Lima resident who has raised concerns about quakes and drilling-related activity in the region. "I hope this is a wake-up call."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. .
 

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i'm not saying that fracking procedures cause quakes but you cant fill a balloon with an endless supply of water.

something has to give somewhere. when a water main breaks under the street nobody knows about it until the street collapses.

all that waste water being injected into the ground at any rate to get at the gas just cant be good. IMO
 

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I live close to the area of the well and I felt the quake pretty good. It's good to see officials agreeing that the injection well appears to be the cause. The epicenter for this one was 1/10th a mile from the well and other 10 before it in 2011 were within two miles of the well. It looks like it took a much stronger quake (4.0) to really get everyone's attention. I do like the phrase "The seismic events are not a direct result of fracking,". While true without fracking and it's waste water that had to be disposed of there is no earthquake.

Before March of 2011 there had never been an earthquake centered in the Mahoning and Trumbull COunty areas.
 

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Although I cant seem to find the exact depth it seems the depth of this quake was 5 km, or 16,404' deep. I don't believe the disposal well is anywhere near that deep. just sayin'
 

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1trueamerican said:
Although I cant seem to find the exact depth it seems the depth of this quake was 5 km, or 16,404' deep. I don't believe the disposal well is anywhere near that deep. just sayin'


Using the USGS info on the quake you will note it says 5 km (poorly constrained).
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Quakes/ld60029101.php

Poorly constrained - when depth is poorly constrained by available seismic data, the location program will set the depth at a fixed value. For example, 33 km is often used as a default depth for earthquakes determined to be shallow, but whose depth is not satisfactorily determined by the data, whereas default depths of 5 or 10 km are often used in mid-continental areas and on mid-ocean ridges since earthquakes in these areas are usually shallower than 33 km.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/glossary.php#depth

also noted here:
http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/geosurvey/faq/depth/tabid/8316/Default.aspx
Why are almost all Ohio earthquakes listed as occurring at a depth of 5 kilometers?

The 5-kilometer depth assigned to most Ohio earthquakes is a predetermined or fixed depth used in the location model. In most cases it is very difficult to determine the true depth to the point of initiation (hypocenter) of the earthquake unless the distance from a seismic station to the epicenter is equal to or less than the depth of the earthquake. We do know that Ohio earthquakes for which depth determinations have been made, are usually at depths of 10 kilometers or less and commonly at or near the 5 kilometer fixed depth. These depths are in the upper part of the Precambrian crystalline rocks that underlie the state.


http://66.232.150.6/news/2011/dec/24/yep-another-valley-earthquake-same-area-others/?mobile

About 300 feet of the D&L injection well reaches the depth of the Precambrian, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
 

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pouring all that waste water into the ground just cant be good.

what happens when a lot of rain water gets into certain areas around this time of year and then it freezes and expands, something has to give, right?

IMO its the same with all the fluid they keep pumping into the ground, something is eventually going to happen.
 
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