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A spate of earthquakes across the middle of the U.S. is “almost certainly” manmade, and may coincide with wastewater from oil or gas drilling injected into the ground, U.S. government scientists said in a new study.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said that for the three decades until 2000, seismic events averaged 21 a year in a central U.S. region. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.
And he goes on to say,
As part of its ongoing effort to study a variety of potential impacts of U.S. energy production, USGS scientists have been investigating the recent increase in the number of magnitude 3 and greater earthquakes in the midcontinent of the United States. Beginning in 2001, the average number of earthquakes occurring per year of magnitude 3 or greater increased significantly, culminating in a six-fold increase in 2011 over 20th century levels.
U.S. Department of the Interior (Source)
And, of course, we know that the Earth’s crust is pervasively fractured at depth by faults. These faults can sustain high stresses without slipping because natural "tectonic" stress and the weight of the overlying rock pushes the opposing sides of the fault together, increasing the frictional resistance to fault slip. The injected wastewater in deep wells can counteract the frictional forces on faults, causing an earthquake.