Recent California Earthquakes Not Linked to Oil Drilling

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
Los Angeles, CA

Although many speculate that a series of earthquakes erupting in the Baldwin Hills region of Los Angeles are tied to drilling activity in nearby oil fields, scientists inform that they are not connected.

The 3.8 trembler (revised from the 3.9 reported on Sunday) that rattled Los Angeles on Sunday and two others that struck the area in the last three weeks, were deep enough below the earth’s surface not to be linked with the Inglewood Oil Field–the largest contiguous oil-producing site in greater Los Angeles—according to Seismologists.

Egill Hauksson, a Caltech seismologist, observed about the deeper quakes,  “That’s where we expect to see tectonic earthquakes, and where we’ve seen them in the past.”

Sunday’s earthquake struck seven miles below the surface and a 3.5 magnitude quake in the same area April 13 occurred at a depth of six miles. A typical human-induced earthquake hits about a mile below the surface, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Residents in the area complain that the drilling definitely has an impact on the area and damages property. Tom Williams, a geologist and senior technical advisor for the Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community in Baldwin Hills and Culver City explained, “We have information that something is going on in the Inglewood field that causes it to rise in some places and sink in others. There have been some surface indications, that is, the breaking of curbs and sidewalks and asphalt.”

Oil drilling as a cause for earthquake has long been a subject for debate. Moreover, many blame fracking in particular as a catalyst for heightened risk of quakes.

The Times reported in April that a U.S. Geological Survey exposed that Oklahoma reported more magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes than California. A great deal of those quakes “are located near deep fluid injection wells or other industrial activities capable of inducing earthquakes,” the study reported.