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AAEES celebrates 100 years of the activated sludge process with a special issue of Environmental Engineer and Scientist. Featuring articles by Daniel W. Schneider, Alonzo W. Lawrence, Andrew C. Middleton, Ross E. McKinney, Richard I. Dick, Glen T. Daigger, James L. Barnard, George Tchobanoglous, H. David Stensel, and the original Ardern and Lockett article.

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Posted: July 9, 2014

Oklahoma earthquakes induced by wastewater injection by disposal wells, study finds

House damage in central Oklahoma from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011.

Credit: Brian Sherrod, USGS

The dramatic increase in earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 is likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at just a handful of disposal wells, finds a new study to be published in the journal Science on July 3, 2014.

The research team was led by Katie Keranen, professor of geophysics at Cornell University, who says Oklahoma earthquakes constitute nearly half of all central and eastern U.S. seismicity from 2008 to 2013, many occurring in areas of high-rate water disposal.

"Induced seismicity is one of the primary challenges for expanded shale gas and unconventional hydrocarbon development. Our results provide insight into the process by which the earthquakes are induced and suggest that adherence to standard best practices may substantially reduce the risk of inducing seismicity," said Keranen. "The best practices include avoiding wastewater disposal near major faults and the use of appropriate monitoring and mitigation strategies."

The study also concluded:

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