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Fracking Linked to 4.4-Magnitude Earthquake in Alberta

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake near Fox Creek, Alberta last week was likely caused by hydraulic fracturing, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator.

“That would likely make it the largest felt earthquake ever caused by fracking, a development that experts swore couldn’t happen a few years ago,” The Tyee reports.

The location of the earthquake “is consistent with being induced by hydraulic fracturing operations,” says AER spokesperson Peter Murchland.

The Alberta Geological Survey and other agencies are investigating a cluster of earthquakes in the Fox Creek area, Nikiforuk writes. “Natural Resources Canada reported a swarm of at least 15 earthquakes this January west of Fox Creek in a region where Encana, Talisman, Apache, Chevron Canada, and ExxonMobil intensified the drilling and fracking of two-kilometre-long horizontal wells nearly a year ago,” extracting condensates used to dilute heavy bitumen for pipeline transport.

Gail Atkinson, Canada Research Chair in Induced Seismicity Hazards at Ontario’s Western University, has had long-standing concerns about industry assurances that fracking wouldn’t cause earthquakes that can be felt on the surface. “I have consistently maintained this kind of thing can happen,” she tells The Tyee. “With fracking, the magnitudes have been increasing every year.”