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Fracking and Earthquakes - Are They Related?

Updated on September 3, 2016

7:02 AM Near Pawnee, Oklahoma

My lovely wife got my sorry fanny out of bed shortly after 7:00 this morning, saying "I think we just had an earthquake!". I.immediately got up and opened my laptop to search on the Folkworm Ceri site to see if she was correct. A few moments later I confirmed what she felt: another strong quake had hit central Oklahoma, registering 5.6 on the scale which tied it for the strongest in Oklahoma history from November 2011. By the by, we felt that one as well. From close to 200 miles away.

In researching this morning I found a site showing where the wells are that are being used to send the wastewater underground and one that shows where the earthquakes occur: it is eerie to see how closely they coincide with one another. Until one of these wells causes a strong enough quake to stir the New Madrid fault and create absolute havoc in America nothing will get done; there is simply too much greed, too many jobs to be had in Oklahoma to bother with "minor" effects sending these wastes into the Arbuckle underground feature of our Earth and causing more and more quakes. Eventually one will set off a major quake and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, all for our country's greed.

Update March 29, 2016

If you still believe Fracking and its associated wasterwater injections are not to blame for Frackquakes, take a look at the link below. Oklahoma has now reached California proportions when it comes to earthquake likelihood. Per the article, published by the Associated Press, portions of northwest Oklahoma will have a 1 in 8 chance of a damaging earthquake this year. Here is what the experts are saying:

"Induced quakes are to blame for much of the problem. They result when wastewater is injected deep underground, said USGS seismologist Justin Rubinstein, the deputy chief of the mapping program. That injection is a byproduct of energy drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, a relatively new and controversial process to drill for oil and gas. But he said the fracking process itself mostly doesn't cause quakes strong enough to be damaging, while injecting fracking waste does."

UPDATE:November 30, 2015

Earthquakes continue to occur, and for the most part those large enough to be felt are occurring in areas contiguous to Fracking wells. And yet, there are those who refuse to admit there is a problem.

Areas in and around Dallas are now showing signs of frackquakes, and will continue to grow both in number and possibly in strength. When will we wake up enough to realize that greed will kill us? That we cannot continue to pump poisons into the earth without expecting something dangerous occurring? That we cannot inject a substance with the intent of lubricating fault lines with the predicted result of increased number and more damaging quakes?

People, wake up. If you have not seen the film "They Live", you might take a look at it. It reminds me greatly of what we have become, a nation of sheep believing nothing but the propaganda shoved down our throat and ignoring the warning signs that are there if we but open our eyes.

I am updating this Hub today as there is a new map showing Oklahoma and its frackquakes. Look at it; decipher it; then defend Fracking if you dare.


What is Fracking?

Fracking, or more correctly termed Hydraulic Fracking is sending a liquid mixture deep into the Earth's crust in order to fracture, or "frack" the rock in order to release a profitable amount of gas or petroleum. The mixture, which is a proprietary mixture of water, chemicals and other materials is injected into micro-fissures in order to release the items intended.

What is not intended, and is a very real side effect, are the earthquakes in areas which have not historically seen earthquakes. My question is where will this ultimately lead? Will the area being subjected to fracking become as active as Southern California, where the residents simply have to live with the constant mini quakes and worry about a mid major or even a major quake while waiting for California to break off and drift away into the Pacific Ocean? What if the Central United States became the Kansas Sea once more?

We experience an earthquake

November 5th, 2011. 10:53 PM.

My wife and I had just fallen asleep when we were awakened by something. We were unable to put our finger on it, but something was different; wrong. It was a feeling of difference; there was something going on. Our room is on the second floor of our home and the feeling was very strong, perhaps enhanced by our distance from the ground. From somewhere within we become conscious of a sound, a low, ongoing rumble almost too low to even hear. It was almost more felt as a vibration inside our heads than heard. Then it became audible and I knew what it was.


I jumped out of bed and flew down the stairs to open the door. Don't ask me what I was hoping to see; I couldn't tell you.

For close to two or three minutes, the house shook slightly and that sound, that ominous sound continued. It felt much longer than that, I assure you.

Finally, it stopped. I came back upstairs and picked up my laptop to go to a website that I keep an eye on due to our proximity to the New Madrid Fault in Southeastern Missouri. I thought it had let go again. The last time it had significant earthquakes was in the winter of 1811 to 1812. In those three short months it had four quakes which registered in the area of 8.0 on the Richter Scale. The Mississippi River had reversed its flow and run northward, and windows had broken in Boston. It had even rung church bells in Toronto. Had it happened again?

I tried and tried to log onto the website, to no avail; it was simply too busy with others doing the same thing. It was the next morning when I found that the earthquake which had awoken us was centered in Oklahoma. Oklahoma? Earthquake? Huh?

Earthquakes in Central Oklahoma

Believe it or not, Central Oklahoma is one of the most seismically rich areas in the continental United States now. Literally hundreds of micro-quakes, ranging from the unable to feel 1.0 to the yeah you felt that 5.7 of that night occur each year. 2011 saw nearly 1,600 quakes that were able to register on the Richter Scale occur. This past Sunday, March 30, 2014 I received no less than eight, that's 8 alerts on my iphone from the area North of Oklahoma City and West of Tulsa. All were in the 3.5 to 4.3 range. A 5.1 quake hit southern California this weekend and is spread across the news media for all to see but no one ever talks about the swarms which are occurring with more and more frequency in Oklahoma.

Notice the pattern of recent quakes in Central Oklahoma
Notice the pattern of recent quakes in Central Oklahoma | Source

One 24 Hour Period of Earthquakes

Consider the following earthquakes in a 24 hour period in Central Oklahoma.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

10:08 PM 3.7, 10:55 PM 3.5

Sunday, March 30, 2014

12:49 AM 2.6, 1:37 AM 3.5, 1:51 AM 4.3, 1:59 AM 3.3, 3:07 AM 3.5, 3:10 AM 3.6, 3:42 AM 4.3, 4:06 AM 2.8, 4:51 AM 2.7, 7:49 AM 3.2, 9:09 AM 4.1, 7:54 PM 2.7

Monday, March 31, 2014 They continued on, smaller but still there.

10:25 AM 2.7, 12:17 PM 3.2, 3:04 PM 2.5, 4:43 PM 2.3, 5:35 PM 2.5, 6:45 PM 2.9, 6:59 PM 3.1, 7:26 PM 2.8, 8:50 PM 3.0

On Tuesday April 1, 2014 there was a 3.0 at 2:07 AM, a 2.6 at 8:41 AM, and a 3.2 at 12:07 PM. All of these are in the same general area as the November 2011 quake and are in the immediate vicinity of Fracking stations. Coincidence?

While a 2.8 or a 3.2 may not be earth-shakers they are still earthquakes and as such should be a concern for what may be coming, and anyone would be concerned by a 4.3, right? If it happened beneath my home, I know I would be.

But taken together they are a pattern, a pattern of what is coming to the area: more and more quakes of increasing intensity.

Are you concerned about the potential for additional and larger earthquakes due to Hydraulic Fracturing?

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What Is Causing This Uptick In Earthquakes?

Why now? Why are we seeing so many cluster quakes occurring in Oklahoma? In part due to the increased output of what is called "tight oil", from 160,000 barrels a day in 2012 to 320,000 barrels a day. If you double the output using techniques which literally fracture portions of solid shale and rock thereby causing slippage, you get earthquakes.

To explain further, by late 2004 there were 24 Woodford Shale gas wells in Oklahoma. By early 2008, that number had increased to over 750. These began as vertical wells, digging straight down into the earth. From there, they became predominantly horizontal wells moving away from the vertical shaft and out into the rock and shale formations seeking product.

Chemicals are injected down these wells both as a means of fracturing the rock and releasing the oil and natural gas trapped there and as a means of disposal of wastewater from these operations. These injections are creating a loosening of the rock, at times along or near a fault line which in turn allows this fault to slip, causing earthquakes. It is similar to placing a liquid designed to release friction on something stuck and lubricating it; once coated the pressure causes slippage and voila! Earthquake.

So what is being injected into the earth? Primarily water, but with added chemicals which may or may not (depending on who you ask) pose a health risk. As of 2012 there were some 11,000 disposal wells in Oklahoma which are being injected with what is termed wastewater. In the commercial wells alone there have been nearly 9 billion gallons of wastewater injected into these wells in the past two years alone. No record exists which can tell how many additional gallons are being injected into private wells.

Some have stated that over the last several decades some 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid has been injected into our earth in these operations.

The chemicals which are in use include ceramic beads, used to "prop" or hold open the fractures to better allow the oil and gas to flow from the area; hydrochloric and/or muriatic acid, to clean up areas of cement and drilling mud; peroxydisulfates to enhance recovery of the fluids; bactericides to prevent bacterial growths; sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate to adjust the pH of the fluid to maximize efficiency; methanol to reduce rusts; potassium hydroxide to change the fluid viscosity; polyacrylamide to allow maximum injection rates; isopropanol, alcohol, glycol, ammonium chloride: the list goes on and on.

All of this is going down into the ground and staying. For years; decades; centuries. Millennia? Who can say?

Movie starring Matt Damon about fracking

Map showing the area felt by similar earthquakes in New Madrid and Southern California. Notice how much farther the New Madrid Fault reaches.
Map showing the area felt by similar earthquakes in New Madrid and Southern California. Notice how much farther the New Madrid Fault reaches. | Source
A picture of a nearly 100 year old sand blow left over from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes.
A picture of a nearly 100 year old sand blow left over from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes. | Source

What If...

And that is where the problem lies. Who can say where these are going? For sure we know they are loosening the fault lines of dormant faults thereby allowing earthquakes to occur in locations where there were none before, and creating (or assisting in creating) larger, more frequent quakes in areas which may have had minor issues before.

And that is where my concern lies. What if we start connecting fault lines?

Several years ago there were similar clusters in Arkansas. If memory serves, during one time frame there were several hundred quakes in a short 48 hour period.

I will tell you, I was scared to death. We live smack between the Oklahoma area and the New Madrid Fault. Just South of a line between these two were those Central Arkansas quakes. I just knew that the Arkansas quakes were going to activate the New Madrid fault and it would stretch across Arkansas and Missouri and connect with Oklahoma, creating a massive, 500 mile long active fault thus creating a massive potential for earthquakes.

What could that mean to the area I live in? Well, for starters this entire area comprised of Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, and Northeast Oklahoma were once mined areas. Literally thousands of mines were sunk into the area, primarily searching for lead and zinc. The entire area is a honeycomb of underground mines stretching for miles in all directions. Some appear on maps; some do not. For example, the High School which was destroyed by the May 22, 2011 EF-5 tornado which hit Joplin is being rebuilt, bigger and "better" than before. A snag appeared during construction when no less than six sinkholes were found up to twenty feet below ground during excavation. Only one was expected, the others had not shown up on any map of the area. On the Wikipedia page for Joplin, Missouri it is stated that as much as 75% of the main portion of Joplin is undermined.

In other words, the region is a house of cards waiting, just waiting for something to shake the table. Then it all comes tumbling down.

It is much the same for Carthage, Webb City, Carl Junction, and Carterville in Missouri; Galena, Riverton, Baxter Springs and Pittsburg in Kansas; and Quapaw, Commerce (childhood home of Mickey Mantle), Picher and Miami in Oklahoma. There are more towns and cities in the surrounding area but you get the idea.

Several hundred thousand people live in this area, all standing, living on thin ice.

A severe earthquake in either Oklahoma or Southeastern Missouri could conceivably connect the dots between the two, thus creating a long line of quakes and shaking, sand blows and such across the area and down it would all come, lock stock and barrel.

This is where the area differs substantially from Southern California: even if a large quake hits there, most of the area will remain standing, ready to rebuild. This area would become one large sinkhole, perhaps a lake. It would be devastation beyond anything seen in this country.

Just Imagine...

There are those who say that Fracking has been going on for years and there is no direct correlation to earthquakes caused by it. No longer can someone who digs even a little say that is true. There are more and more studies coming out which are tying the two together in states such as Oklahoma and Arkansas.

It has taken a while but the earth is becoming more and more fractured by this technique and as a result, fault lines which were dormant are becoming active to the point of creating an earthquake which will rival anything California has seen, and possibly creating a series of monster quakes such as were seen two hundred years ago in Southeastern Missouri, Southwestern Tennessee and Kentucky and Northeastern Arkansas. Imagine tens of thousands of square miles full of upheavals, sand blows a hundred feet across, pits and holes opening and swallowing homes and cars, buried lines carrying oil, natural gas, sewer all rupturing and creating firestorms miles across.

Sounds like hell on earth to me. And we will have created it by our own greed.

Does This Affect Only The Region?

So, what do we do? Americans have this need for oil to drive our cars everywhere so we are handcuffed to the regions which harvest it. We are trying to become independent of the Middle East and many turn a blind eye as to how we achieve this: fracking is one blind eye. But at what cost?

Is it worth hundreds of thousands of lives to continue to inject a toxic soup into our ground, perhaps allowing these chemicals to infest our ground water, and thereby us, our animals, our crops in the process? Is it acceptable to blindly shove a lubricant into areas which are experiencing more and larger earthquakes than at any recorded time before and continue to bet against the house that everything will be okay? All in the name of telling the Middle East to shove their oil?

You tell me. I live here and I do not desire to be caught in the middle of something which could cause such death and destruction to so many. But before you vote, think about this.

How much oil and natural gas travels through the area in underground pipelines? Where are these headed? The East Coast and New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.? What happens if a major quake disrupts that flow, spilling into rivers and waterways across the region and never reaching their destination? In the middle of winter? So while we lay dying below ground, perhaps never to be seen or heard from again, the East Coast suddenly has no heating oil to survive and becomes a disaster in its own right. Farfetched? Maybe, but are you willing to bet the house on it?

Peter Hernon wrote a fascinating book entitled 8.4 some years ago about a major quake hitting the New Madrid area in today's world. He describes the before hand and afterwards in great detail and allows the reader to see into the future. It is a bleak look, let me assure you. The map I have here shows the reader the area which would be affected by a major (8.0) quake in both the New Madrid and San Andreas fault lines. Notice how much wider the area is for the New Madrid as opposed to the San Andreas due to the underlying geology of the area. How many more people would be affected by such a quake. Then go onto the New Madrid page of Wikipedia and read for yourself the details of the last set of quakes in the area. It is a chilling read.

In Conclusion..

Earthquakes are directly linked to Fracking in my eye. Perhaps not every well will offer the opportunity for quakes, but the more we drill and inject, the higher the risk. Perhaps not now, although we are seeing an increase, but soon; soon. Maybe our children will be forced to deal with another one of our thoughtless issues we leave behind. Imagine their lives disrupted or destroyed due to something we caused, and had a chance to rectify. Wouldn't you make that choice?

We must find something better, some other option for fuel for the future of our race; something beyond oil and gas, beyond another band aid on our lives. Change! We need something new which will offer a better tomorrow for our children and our grandchildren. Our Government must demand it as we must demand it of our Government. Our slavery to this fossil technology must cease immediately else we continue to build our house of cards atop the table, rising higher and higher all the while daring something to shake, rattle, and roll it while hoping our house does not fall.

An example of a map of old mines in the area
An example of a map of old mines in the area | Source


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Very interesting hub. Here in Australia, there is some fracking going on, and it is a worrying subject. Many farmers are worried about the effect it will have on their groundwater.

      I've heard that fracking is being carried out in the UK also, and although the UK is not really an earthquake zone, it sees they are getting more tremors than they used to.

      We should stop damaging our planet, it's the only one we have.

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      4 years ago from Missouri

      Gawth and LongTimeMother, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment on this serious subject. We do have a lot to worry about regarding these fracking holes and wells, but it seems like only a few of us are worried. Far too many have their heads firmly implanted in the sands, or are pocketing money and turning a blind eye towards the situation. Those whose heads are in the sands need to watch out for sand blows when the earthquakes get worse! And those pocketing the money will eventually gain their comeuppances for money won't replace loved ones lost when a severe quake occurs, and one is bound to occur in these regions.

      Just a few days ago, news was being made regarding Dallas and earthquakes and I wondered: if those small quakes rattled Dallas and were news, then why aren't the larger ones occurring in and around Oklahoma City and Tulsa being reported? This area is almost having daily 3.0 and up quakes rattling the skyline.

      I still fear a joiner quake between mid Oklahoma and New Madrid so much that I insisted we add earthquake insurance to our homeowners. Agent thought I was crazy I think but we'll be prepared when (not if)...

      Take care and may God bless and keep you.

    • LongTimeMother profile image


      4 years ago from Australia

      I came back to look at your update ... and to share this hub. Why are so many people who control the health and future of our planet so stupid??

    • Gawth profile image

      Ron Gawthorp 

      4 years ago from Millboro, Virginia

      I enjoyed your article very much. It is very informative and raises some questions. I generally favor fracking as a good way to make the country energy independent but have been puzzled by the earthquake charges. I am further puzzled by the charges that fluid disposal might be causing the problem. When the EPA originally set up the disposal laws they stipulated that fluid had to be injected back into the same formation from which it was taken. So if you took out 10,000 bbls from the XYZ formation it had to be taken back to a site where 10,000 bbls could be put back into the same formation. So in theory that was net zero.

      I wonder if those laws have been changed? It's obvious you cannot put 100 gallons of water in a five gallon bucket so if they are doing that under pressure, they would be overburdening the formation. I've been out of the drilling business for years but I never liked the chemical injection even in vertical wells because I thought it endangered fresh water supplies. While there are pretty good safeguards for protecting fresh water now those safeguards were not in place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There are thousands of abandoned more shallow wells out there that have never been plugged or were "brush plugged" (a forked branch was forced a few feet down the hole, cement sacks put on top of that and then the dry cement just shoveled in on top of the paper with a hope that it would one day set up) I'm certain a lot of the contamination being attributed to fracking is really from a lack of oversight and enforcement from the states in the early years, particularly in New York and Pennsylvania. All that said, I'm sure there is a saturation point for too much fracturing of the earth by well bores. The government has spacing laws for wells on top of the earth but none (that I know of) inside the earth. I too have seen mine subsidence and a lot of small holes makes a big hole.

      You do have a worry if you're hooked up to the New Madrid fault. That's a bad one. I provided drilling tools on a series of wells drilled there in the 1980s They were tite holes but the company man advised me when the project was over not to move there. He said the formation on one side of the fault was 5,000 feet higher than the same formation in another well drilled 20 miles across the fault. That is a lot of slippage and sure to cause a bang when it moves. No wonder the Mississippi flowed backwards in 1818.

      Yours was a really good article and posed some really good questions that need to be more public and debated.

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      4 years ago from Missouri

      Glad you enjoyed it Bobbi. I agree: we are killing that which nourishes us without a second thought. By the time our leaders decide something is wrong, an infection will be set in, damages incurred and it will be too late. I appreciate your sharing it, every little bit helps! And you have a wonderful 2015 as well! Thank you!

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image


      4 years ago from Florida


      I just read that Florida's Collier County is going to court over Acid Fracking in the Everglades.

      I suppose I should pick out what I want to wear as Florida floats away.

      I am happy you wrote this now we can do our research and write about it to let people know.


      Bobbi Purvis

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image


      4 years ago from Florida


      Thanks for writing this article and it has my attention. Congress should investigate and stop the Fracking. I do not want Florida to break off and float to Cuba or any place else for that matter.

      We will destroy our earth if something is not done about this now rather than later.

      I will share with my Twitter friends and pin this on my re-pin board.

      Have a wonderful 2015,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The. New. Madrid. Fault. Line. Scars me

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Scary! Fracking is spreading all across the country. If you ride around in Ulster County, NY you will see "No Fracking" signs on many lawns. You are soo right Mr. Archer, fracking is pushing this earth to its limits and that means disaster for us.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Of course they are related. Thanks for these additional facts to work with in discussions! Great hub! Keep them coming. Thanks, again! ;-)

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      5 years ago from Missouri

      It is amazing how many people I have spoken with who do not believe Fracking is a problem, nor that injecting water and other items into the ground can or are causing the quakes. I just don't understand not being open to this possibility.

      How many of these have you felt? You are near most of them, right?

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment and stay safe down there!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Oklahoma is alive and well, but experiencing more quakes. I have no doubt that tracking is causing this. Inject too much filling in your twinkie, and what happens? Same thing. I rest my case...

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      5 years ago from Missouri

      Poolman and Cheyenne, thanks for the stop and comment.

      What are we to do? We the People know it is wrong but our Government ignores us and does whatever it desires. Then we are left to clean up another mess left behind by others.

      Have you ever watched the Pixar movie "Wall-E"? It is cute for the young children but there are some not so subtle hints about what we as a society are doing and where we are going. Reliance on technology, trashing our planet and leaving it for someone else to clean up, obesity, and many other glimpses which I found fascinating as it shows the little kids how not to treat others or our planet.

      Maybe they will find a fix for our messes.

      Take care and God Bless.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, I agree with you. Our entire continent could fall apart and sink if this doesn't stop. Even if we didn't sink, the wastewater - which is full of chemicals and bacteria - combined with the added chemicals it takes to force into the lower regions of the Earth will kill us and all living things. And it may not take as long as we think!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      5 years ago

      I'm not a Global Warming believer, but your concerns are valid in my mind. I watched 60 Minutes last Sunday where they had a section on the Tesla automobile. I truly believe this type transportation is the wave of the future, but a long way from being affordable for most of us. The future plan from Tesla is to build solar charging stations where people can recharge their batteries for free. This of course would not work in all states.

      Most of us are aware that the prices of fossile fuels are artificially regulated and manipulated. Our government invested heavily in solar projects that turned out to be nothing but financial gifts to select individuals.

      Bottom line is until we can replace fossile fuels with reliable and affordable alternatives fracking will continue. The oil companies have bought and paid for enough political support that their futures are reasonably secure.

      Many of the current EPA regulations discourage the development of alternative engery rather than encourage new development. Talk is cheap but I am not aware of any current government sponsered programs designed to get us away from reliance on fossile fuels. Programs such as these would be a great place to put our tax dollars to great use.

      I guess people need to think about the long term effects of fracking that are still unknown. Even if they could make some big bucks, would they want fracking to take place in their back yard?

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      5 years ago from Missouri

      Yes, you are between California and Alaska on the Ring of Fire, aren't you? How near are you to that mudslide that occurred recently? That has to be scary, living in that type of an area, never knowing if the ground is going to shake or slide away like that.

      This fracking is a big concern to me on many levels, not the least of which is the chemicals and the quakes. Why do people thin we can just throw crap into the ocean or bury it underground and forget about it? It isn't going away; it will continue to cause issues long after we are gone, leaving a horrific legacy behind our descendants will have to clean up the way we are cleaning up our ancestors messes. When will people learn?

      Thank you Sir William. Keep the faith and may God continue to bless and keep you and Bev.

      Long Time Mother, thank you on behalf of those who you have made a difference for. We all need to be more aware of what is going on; we can no longer bury our heads in the sand. The sand is full of things which will kill us. Take care and God Bless.

    • LongTimeMother profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      I was actively involved in protesting against fracking in a region where it is now successfully banned. I don't even live there any more, but made the trip back because I believe fracking causes way too many problems to be tolerated.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, buddy, we live in earthquake country, so I don't give much thought to earthquakes...but I give a lot of thought to fracking, and this is one business that should be shut down permanently in this country. The truth is that businesses have no idea what damage they are doing and they don't care, and we are all left with the aftermath and dangers. Keep raising awareness my friend. Someone has to.

      blessings always



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