BALDWIN HILLS (CBSLA.com/AP) — A recent string of earthquakes to hit the Southland recently have not been related to drilling at a controversial Inglewood oil field, according to scientists.
Sunday’s 3.9-magnitude earthquake was the third in three weeks along the Newport-Inglewood fault, which caused a 1933 Long Beach quake that killed more than 100 people, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Residents in the Baldwin Hills area say oil field operations cause ground movement and property damage, and that they want more oversight and research on impacts the drilling has had, according to the Associated Press.
A report released last month found once stable regions in eight U.S. states, including parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, have been shaken in recent years by small earthquakes triggered by oil and gas drilling.
Scientists have mainly attributed the spike to the injection of wastewater deep underground, a practice they say can activate dormant faults. Only a few cases of shaking have been blamed on fracking, in which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into rock formations to crack them open and free oil or gas.
But despite those recent reports, seismologists say the earthquakes recently felt here in the Southland are too far below the surface to be caused by drilling.
The Southern California Seismic Network says it doesn’t have any information about industrial activities in the oil field, but because the quakes were deep they were more likely due to tectonics than human activity, according to the Associated Press.
USGS seismologist and leading earthquake expert Lucy Jones says, so far, man-made earthquakes have not been an issue in California.
“We are not seeing a change in the rate of earthquakes over the last few years,” Jones said.
She added, however, it will be important for the state to carefully monitor where and how much wastewater is injected into the ground.
In the meantime, Jones warns that natural earthquakes pose a far greater risk to the Southland and California at large.
“Let’s focus on that,” she said. “That’s far more likely to get you.”
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