Fracking Is Unlikely to Cause Earthquakes

Published June 18, 2012

Hydraulic fracturing does not present a significant risk of causing earthquakes, according to a newly published report by the National Research Council. 

The National Research Council, which is a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, found the only significant risk of earthquakes related to hydraulic fracturing comes from injecting hydraulic fracturing wastewater underground after the conclusion of fracking. Even then, seismic events associated with injecting wastewater underground have been minor, and have not resulted in loss of life of significant damage.

Energy companies can dispose of wastewater through a variety of means, the report observed. To the extent energy companies dispose wastewater underground, new technologies are being developed that reduce the risk of the small earthquakes that have occurred.

The report, Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies, is available at