Study: Distant quakes can affect oil, gas fields

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Seismograph reading of an earthquake. (AP Photo)

Seismograph reading of an earthquake. (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — New research suggests earthquake faults near oil and gas fields in the central United States can break after a large quake that strikes halfway around the globe.

Scientists have long known that big quakes can trigger minor quakes far away. This is evident at Yellowstone National Park and other volcanic hotspots.

Less is known about the influence of remote quakes on fault zones that have been weakened by oil and gas drilling operations such as the deep injection of wastewater into the Earth.

Researchers led by Columbia University found evidence of recent distant quakes setting off tremors around injection wells in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. The triggered shaking was followed months later by a moderate quake.

The new work appears in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

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