Since mid-September, there have been more than 500 earthquakes recorded by geological monitoring equipment. The sizes of these tremors or temblors range from 1.8 on the Richter scale all the way to 4.0, according to an official United States Geological Survey.
Geologists have no idea if they will stop soon or will continue until a “big one” strikes.
Natural gas producers have become scapegoats by some as the cause for the shaking, but officials say that this drilling activity is not connected. However, a geo-hazards assessor with the Geological Survey has suggested that a root of the problem may be the wastewater that is pumped back into the earth after gas extraction.
In early December, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission placed a moratorium on new disposal well permits, offering further evidence for a connection between the drilling activity, known as fracking, and the tremors. Fracking is the practice of injecting undisclosed chemicals and water into the ground under high-pressure to extract the trapped natural gas. The fact that this moratorium was issued in haste may suggest a connection between the seismic events and this relatively new and spreading practice of gas extraction.