Land near the Colorado-New Mexico border has recently been caving inwards in an area where a 5.3 magnitude earthquake took place in 2011. As KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports, scientists at the United States Geological Survey are pointing to wastewater disposal as a potential trigger.
Higher magnitude earthquakes are a rarity in Colorado, making the 2011 quake of special interest to scientists. Research showed a possible cause as wastewater injection which involves the pumping of large volumes of fluid into the Earth, creating high-pressure conditions.
Scientists with the US Geologic Survey are studying the relationship between earthquakes, gas drilling and the practice of re-injecting waste-water into the ground. They're looking at area around Trinidad in Southern Colorado, where the number of earthquakes has been growing. Trinidad currently averages about eight magnitude-3 earthquakes a year.
Geophysicist Justin Rubinstein with the USGS, says there appears to be a correlation to the waste water injection process, but adds it happens at only a handful of the 35,000 injection wells across the country.