FRACKING – the controversial process of extracting shale gas by blasting water into rocks at high pressure – will not cause serious earthquakes, fresh research suggested yesterday.
The study, conducted by Durham University’s Energy Institute, concluded that just three earthquakes detectable by humans since 1929 could be attributed to hydraulic fracking.
Most of the tremors caused by the process will not be felt, the study concluded.
Professor Richard Davies, who led the study, said the study “established beyond doubt” that fracking could reactivate dormant fault lines but that the impact was likely to be very small.
The largest fracking earthquake discovered in the study was 3.7 on the richter scale.
In contrast, the study found that other manmade actions such as mining or filling reservoirs, could cause more serious earthquakes of up to 5.6 on the richter scale.
“In almost all cases, the seismic events caused by hydraulic fracturing have been undetectable other than by geoscientists,” said Professor Davies.
“So we have concluded that hydraulic fracturing is not a significant mechanism for inducing felt earthquakes. It is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking,” he added.
The study should provide relief for UK fracking firm Cuadrilla Resources, which has had to fight opposition from environmentalists.