Since March, a hydraulic fracturing operation near Youngstown, Ohio, has been shaking things up. In the past nine months, 11 earthquakes have originated within two miles of the well. The latest, which struck on Saturday, was also the largest, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale- strong enough to be felt in Toronto, reported the New York Times.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources asked for a temporary shut down of the operation on December 24, after a 2.4 magnitude quake; D&L Energy Group, which owns the well, complied voluntarily. Officials brought in to investigate the cause of the seismic activity (in a usually calm area) speculate that the water and other liquids pumped thousands of feet into the ground have reduced friction among fault lines, causing them to slip.There's no word yet on when the well might reopen, or what the ramifications for hydraulic fracturing in the area would be if the earthquakes are definitively linked to the operation. But this is not an isolated incident: fracking caused 50 earthquakes in Oklahoma and two more in England.