When you think of earthquakes, most people around here used to think of the San Andreas Fault in California, but with all the oil activity in the Basin now it is a common occurrence here.

According to NewsWest 9, in fact, we had two reported on Tuesday and another one on Wednesday all above 3.0 magnitude and so far since February, there have been seven in the Gardendale Seismic Response Area which covers northeast Ector County to southwest Martin County.

The oil industry is the reason for all the seismic activity, obviously, so the Texas Railroad Commission and leaders of the oil and gas industry have asked companies to figure out ways to cut down on saltwater injections.

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But Michael Zavada, professor of Biology and Geology at UTPB, loves it when he feels the earth shake.

“When I first feel it, I’m like yahoo it’s an earthquake," said Zavada. "This is great, I’m a geologist.”

We here in the Basin are figuring out what types of earthquakes are happening and why they are happening.

“This is caused by produced water that's reinjected into a waste well," said Zavada. "That then gets put back underground and lubricates a fault that then slips and causes low-grade earthquakes between 1 and 4.5, and the water is from the activity that is going on in the oil field and everything.”

The good thing is the tremors are miles below ground which means damage is highly unlikely.

But we do want them to stop and the scientists at UTPB are hoping to figure out a way to stop them.

“We’re hoping to find some solutions to ameliorate this before it gets too bad because we still have to get rid of that water," said Zavada. “Once we find out what it is, we’ll make the correction in it. And you’ll see the industry change immediately. They want it more than anyone else does because, again, earthquakes are bad for business.”

So the geologists are hard at work trying to find out what the future holds for all this seismic activity and trying to figure out ways to stop it.

 

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