Fracking Wastewater Disposal Linked to Remotely Triggered Quakes
The finding could help scientists identify critically stressed faults.
"The fluids are driving the faults to their tipping point," lead author Nicholas van der Elst, a seismologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a statement.
Scientists have known about "dynamically triggered" temblors for over 20 years, and certain regions were known to be more vulnerable to such earthquakes than others, especially those where underground water superheated by magma can weaken faults and make them more vulnerable to seismic waves generated by a distant quake.
For example, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Alaska in 2002 triggered a series of quakes at Yellowstone National Park—nearly 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) away—throwing off the schedules of some of its most predictable geysers.
"We had some idea for some time that these fluid-rich systems tend